What are the best bets for the Irish Grand National?
The recent roll of honour for the Irish Grand National, run at Fairyhouse over 3m5f on Bank Holiday Monday (due off 5.00pm), is littered with huge-priced winners, but it remains a strong race for trends and there is a clear message – side with a lightly-raced chaser with winning form over at least 3m and weighted on the right side of 11st.
The last two winners – Thunder And Roses (last year) and Shutthefrontdoor – ticked all those boxes and with hindsight it’s surprising the former was allowed to go off at 20/1. He was a 136-rated runner and carried 10st 6lb to victory, while Shutthefrontdoor was on 142 and lumped 10st 13lb – the highest weight carried by the last ten winners. The weights for this year’s renewal are set to rise at the final declaration stage and by a significant amount if the current top weights Foxrock and Cause Of Causes are scratched, as seems likely.
That said, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained ANOTHER HERO should still end up with less than 11st to carry (he was on 9st 12lb at the time of writing) and he’ll be carrying my cash as he is the ideal type and, additionally, looks to have been been laid out for this having skipped the Cheltenham Festival.
The lightly-raced seven-year-old has compiled an impressive CV to date, going unbeaten in two bumpers and then winning three of his seven hurdle starts. His best effort in that sphere, though, was his in defeat when finishing second behind Brother Brian in a class 2 handicap at Cheltenham in April 2014, after which he was sidelined for 19 months through injury.
He reappeared at Ascot in November (3m, good to soft) when successful on his chase debut and he had no trouble defying a 6lb rise at Ludlow last time (3m, soft), travelling well throughout and finding plenty after his two nearest pursuers at the time faltered at the second from home. O’Neill said after that race: “He jumped and travelled well on ground that would have been sticky enough for him but he coped with it. He is a horse who has not been without his little problems but hopefully we are over all of that now.”
The similarities between him and the same stable’s Shutthefrontdoor (the 2014 hero) are uncanny and having been raised just 5lb to a new mark of 136, connections have done absolutely the right thing in saving him for a big pot like this, rather than attempt the hat-trick at one of the smaller tracks. The ground should be fine too – it’s currently ‘yielding’ with some rain forecast, though very unlikely to deteriorate too much – and I’m reasonably confident he has the necessary stamina. At the current 14/1, I reckon it’s worth paying to find out.
A good number of his fancied rivals would have their chances improved by some rain, including the current favourite Venitien De Mai, who has won his last two starts on heavy in the style of an improving sort. He is feared along with Noel Meade’s Bonny Kate, who is chasing a four-timer, and Sub Lieutenant, who represents last year’s winning trainer Sandra Hughes and who bounced back to winning form in a first-time visor at Naas last time.
Another Hero each-way @ 14/1 Boylesports (1/4 odds, 126.96.36.199.5)