Tag Archives: Fairyhouse

Betting Preview: 2018 Irish Grand National

Katie Walsh and Thunder And Roses, winner of the Irish Grand National

Irish Grand National day – a dire day weather wise, if I have a look out of the window. Heavy ground at Fairyhouse – this will be some tough slug! You got to enjoy this type of deep ground and staying is the name of the game.

So, is it smart to be sweet on two horses that do have to prove they can last the National distance? Remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I do fancy Bellshill quite a bit. He would have been interesting for Aintree as well, however, Willie Mullins decided, despite an 8lb penalty for his last win, it’s going to be home sweet home.

Bellshill won the Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase in February, bypassing Cheltenham for a crack at the Irish National subsequently. Up for debate how much this form is worth. Still, he looked like the trip is certainly no issue and further to that he enhanced his fine record on deep ground.

Off 158 effectively today, I feel this mark could still treat Bellshill lightly. He’s a class act – let’s not forget he finished a good third in the RSA behind Might Bite twelve months ago!

From the bigger prices I also quite like the look of top weight Outlander. Off 11st 10lb it’ll be an almighty uphill task, no doubt, and you have to get back quite a bit in history to find a winner off top weight.

The fact that Outlander was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup isn’t ideal. On the other hand his runner-up performance in the Irish Gold Cup sets quite a high standard and says he is still worth every pound of his rating.

It is also fair to say Outlander is a different horse at home soil. He’s also enjoying deep ground, though, his stamina, albeit winning form over three miles, will be tested to the limit today.

I quite like the fact that an excellent 7lb claimer is booked, who will take off valuable pounds. Rob James is one of the leading riders on the Irish Point-to-Point scene, so that looks a significant jockey booking.

Selections:
7pts win – Bellshill @ 11/1 VC
3pts win – Outlander @ 40/1 VC

Preview: Irish Grand National

Last week we enjoyed a spectacular English Grand National at Aintree. This Easter Monday now all eyes will be on the Irish equivalent which is no less a cracking race to witness!

One of the biggest differences is that unlike the Aintree version, the Irish Grand National has been won by a female jockey – it’s the very same one who came closest to win the English National on Seabass in 2012 when finishing third.

Seabass has sadly passed away last week – may he rest in piece – but Katie Walsh has a ride here – however not on her 2015 winner Thunder And Roses but on the six year old Baie Des Iles. Can she do it again? Well, the odds are against here an it looks a difficult task for this young horse, indeed.

The champs of the last two years will find life difficult too. Thunder And Roses for one hasn’t got his head in front since landing the race in 2015 (and winning me a huge pot!). He was pulled up at Aintree, so was Rogue Angel, who got up in a thriller twelve months ago.

No worries for Gigginstown, though, as the powerful operation has another twelve runners in the race to land them the big prize for a third consecutive year!

That says none of them is particularly well fancied, with Cheltenham winner Tiger Roll  the best of the lot seemingly. However the seven year old has to carry a penalty and is a sketchy jumper who may find this test probably beyond him.

Another seven year old owns the position of red hot favourite. Our Duke, a fairly short 6/1 chance with most firms, comes here with a huge reputation on his handicap debut, after winning two of his three career starts over fences, including a Grade 1 in Novice company.

The only time he did not win, he finished a very gallant runner-up behind Disko at the Christmas Festival – form that looks incredibly strong.

Now, though, he has to bring his credentials to this much more demanding test, against seasoned, experienced animals and in a field as big as he’s ever encountered. Our Duke is a talented horse, but to back him at this short price with all these things in mind? I’d rather not.

The two that I like allot: current second favourite Fletchers Flyer and Gorden Elliott’s Noble Endevour.

Harry Fry hasn’t made a secret of the fact that this race has been the long term plan for Fletchers Flyer ever since he won a big Handicap Chase at the Punchestown Festival last year. He obviously handles this type of fast ground, goes well on a right handed track that is to some extend similar to Fairyhouse and he jumps well in a big field.

This still quite lightly raced chaser has seen a racecourse only twice this season. His comeback run is one to put a line through, however a third place in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February is a fine piece of form.

He should come here in tip top shape, certainly fresher than most and could easily find a bit of improvement in these conditions which means his mark of 145 could undervalue his real talent.

Noble Endevour is a bit more experienced and very much race hardened. He looked superb when landing the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and he followed up with another huge performance at the Cheltenham Festival when third behind Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

You always wonder how much energy that must have cost but he had only four starts this season so may well have still something left in the tank. Second highest weight in the race isn’t an easy feast but he should love these conditions as he clearly excels in big fields, his jumping is big and bold, he travelles strongly and the only slight question mark, other than fitness, is maybe the fast ground.

He has shown to handle it in the past, though his very best form comes on slow ground. Given that he usually travelles so strongly through his races I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Selections:
5pts win – Fletchers Flyer @ 11/1 Betfair SB
5pts win – Noble Endeveaur @ 16/1 Bet365

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6.00 Redcar: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Of course with three year old’s early in the season you can’t be quite sure how the race pans out pace wise, also some go with first headgear to post, suggesting there might be change of tactics for some.

However if you only read through the racing comments for most horses in this field you’ll find only very few did ever race close the pace, let alone lead a field. The majority is held up in rear, dwelt, was slowly away and therefore naturally behind, or at most tracking the race from a midfield position.

I feel this might give a horse a chance that forces the matter. Obvious candidate is top weight Chickenfortea, who has decent form in the book too. However of a revised mark he looks vulnerable to an improver.

This one could be Kevin Ryan’s Backinanger. This las has been up with the pace in his last two starts on the All-Weather where he ran with credit. He was incredibly keen when last seen at Newcastle and couldn’t sustain his effort, though the third place looks good form taking all of that into consideration, even more so as the winner backed up the form subsequently.

Backinanger is still winless, but he makes his turf handicap debut here with fast conditions sure to suit. Interestingly connections opted for fitting cheek-pieces for the first time, something that could help him to focus, be sharp in the finish and be easier to handle in general.

He also hails from a decent family, he also was a late foal which explains why he looked still pretty raw in most of his races up to date. It is therefore fair to assume that he could still improve a bit. A low mark of 57 gives him a good chance here.

Selection:
10 pts win – Backinanger @ 7/1 Bet365

Fairyhouse Betting: Grade 1 Action

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Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Willie Mullins holds the keys in his hands to the outcome of this race. Exciting Long Dog might be hard to beat but stable mate Bachasson can’t be underestimated.

The French import is unbeaten in four starts in Ireland and landed a good Grade 3 Hurdle in excellent style when last seen. He’s also receiving some weight from Long Dog.

Bachasson @ 7/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (Grade 1)

If Arctic Fire runs to his best he’ll be probably running away with this. However he’s fallen short to prevail on the highest level up until now and is one I’m prepared to take on.

Receiving 4lb from all his rivals, French gelding Gwencily Berbas is an interesting alternative. He probably would like it a bit softer but has won on yielding ground here at Fairyhouse over 2m on Grade 3 level earlier this month.

Still lightly raced, he is unexposed over the 2 1/2m trip, which on pedigree should very much suit.

Gwencily Berbas @ 10/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Pat Harkin Has The Right Tools To Get Off The Mark

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8.25 Fairyhouse: Handicap (47-75), 1m 2f

A rather open and competitive looking affair, with plenty of form closely matched. Nonetheless the two lto winners make plenty of appeal. The penny has finally dropped for Lake Champlain when he scored at Down Royal 11 days ago. Only 3lb higher today, he remains of interest.

Same applies to Social Climber, who went agonisingly close at Leopardstown before blinkers helped him to focus when it really matters as he followed on to win his first race at Gowran Park.

He is closely matched on his Leopardstown form with Pat Harkin and Alcock And Brown who finished not far behind in fourth and fifth. These two meet Social Climber on 9lb and 6lb better terms today, which may swing things in their favour. 

Alcock And Brown raced wide and lost ground in the home turn, yet finished strongly. A more ground saving ride and the better weights should see him going close today.

But Pat Harkin seems the better prospect. He hit the crossbar a couple of times but is improving all the time. He’s clearly bred to get the trip and has the weights in his favour today. He’s 9lb better off with the favourite and 3lb etter off with AAB. He seems the best handicapped horse in this field.

Pat Harkin @ 9/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Preview – Irish Grand National

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Naturally this is a race where you could pick five horses and still may not pick the right one to win. It is that competitive! The conditions at Fairyhouse will ensure that this is a real test of stamina today, not only because of the long 3m 5f trip, but also very much because of the soft ground.

That says spring is in the air nonetheless, and we should have a cracking race in prospect under the pleasant April sun. I could say allot about each and every runner, but will concentrate on the horses that intrigued me most – I had 11 runners short-listed, and cut it down to three horses to follow today.

Thunder And Roses; Katie Walsh – 25/1 

The seven year old gelding had a fair first season over fences. A mud loving hurdler as high as 135 rated, he was always going to be a better chaser potentially and currently rated 136, he could still have a bit improvement left. He was disappointing at Cheltenham where he fell, was a modest third in Grade 2 company before, but won a 3 mile contest at Fairyhouse in impressive style back in January. Now on his Handicap debut, he looks not out off it with a fair opening mark, and this test today and could be what he really wants.

Dogora; Paul Townend – 33/1 

He is only a six year old and is one I’m sure hasn’t shown us all he has got yet. His performance in the Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham was really good I felt, even though he got a bit tired up the hill. But he was one of the horses affected by the fallers at the second last but he kept going and was by no means disgraced in 4th. It looks like this kind of test is what he wants, so the big field and trip should suit him. He has done well on soft ground in the past and of a mark off 135 he could be dangerous.

Tammys Hill; BT O’Connell – 25/1 

This hunters chaser had a rather light campaign this season and clearly has been kept fresh for the National. He can race off a very fair mark and has class, as he won the Foxhunter Chase two years ago at the Festival. I believe he has the trip in him and he goes well in these kind of ground conditions. He looks in with a big chance.

All three selections 2.5pts Each/Way