Cheltenham Festival winners and local hero set for BoyleSports Irish Grand National
Tuesday, 22 March 2022 at 09:52AM
A trio of last week’s Cheltenham Festival winners and three horses from the local stable of last year’s race winning trainer Dermot McLoughlin head the entries for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, April 18.
McLoughlin’s Freewheelin Dylan, owned by Sheila Mangan, became the longest priced winner in the history of Ireland’s greatest steeplechase with his 150/1 success under Ricky Doyle in the race 12 months ago and he features among the 93 entries for the latest renewal of the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, the 150th running of the race. He rates as a 25/1 with the race sponsors this time.
The Ratoath trainer has also entered his dual course winner Lord Lariat (50/1) and Opposites Attract (40/1) while last week’s Cheltenham Festival winners Delta Work and Stattler, the early 9/1 favourite with BoyleSports, have their place on strong squads from the stables of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins respectively.
Elliott boasts an entry of 24 horses, by far the largest of any trainer, and along with his Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase winner, he has also put the Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth and top-weight Galvin in the race. The stable’s Farouk D’Alene, hot on the heels of the leaders when falling at the second last fence in the Brown Advisory Novices´ Chase, is an early 12/1 joint second favourite in the betting. Elliott’s Farclas is one of five horses on the 14/1 mark while last year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National runner-up and last week’s Cheltenham runner-up Run Wild Fred is among those on offer at odds of 16/1. Previous Fairyhouse winner Mount Ida is another early 16/1 chance.
For his part, Mullins has made 16 entries with ante-post favourite Stattler, one of his record-breaking 10 Cheltenham Festival winners last week, and the conqueror of Run Wild Fred in the National Hunt Chase, heading the Closutton team. Burrows Saint gave Mullins his first win in the race when leading home a 1-2-3 for the stable in 2019 and is a 25/1 chance for a repeat success. The novices Gaillard Du Mesnil and Capodanno are early 14/1 chances with Franco De Port next best of the champion trainer’s entries at 20/1.
The Peter Casey-trained Max Flamingo was a handicap hurdle winner on the BoyleSports Irish Grand National card a year ago and he has the main event as a target this time following his success at Thurles on Saturday. He is the other 12/1 joint second favourite.
Noel Meade looks to have a strong hand with six entries headed by 14/1 chance School Boy Hours, a big handicap chase winner at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival but pulled-up when market leader for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys´ Handicap Chase at last week’s Cheltenham Festival. It is 20 years since Meade won the BoyleSports Irish Grand National with Ross Geraghty’s mount The Bunny Boiler and he has also entered his Fairyhouse Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase winner Beacon Edge (25/1) along with recent Leinster National winner Dior Ker (16/1). The latter narrowly beat the Matthew Smith-trained Ronald Pump (20/1) to claim top honours at Naas that afternoon and they could well clash again.
Corach Rambler is a 14/1 chance to add the BoyleSports Irish Grand National to last week’s Ultima Handicap Chase win under County Sligo’s Derek Fox and he heads a British entry of six. The Lucinda Russell-trained eight-year-old is on a potential raiding party that includes 20/1 chances Threeunderthrufive, trained by Paul Nicholls, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Time To Get Up and the Harry Fry-trained Phoenix Way. The Charlie Longsdon-trained Snow Leopardess is a 25/1 chance, the same price as Ask Me Early, a second entry for last week’s Cheltenham Festival winner Fry.
Henry de Bromhead has entered five horses and among the quintet are last year’s Aintree Grand National hero Minella Times and the two-time Fairyhouse winner Court Maid which is a new recruit for the yard since chasing home subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Elimay at Naas last month. She is another 20/1 chance.
Velvet Elvis (33/1) could represent Tom Gibney who won the race 10 years ago with Lion Na Bearnai while the Gavin Cromwell’s Vanillier (16/1) looks another lively County Meath-trained contender.
Bill Durkan’s Screaming Colours is also a 16/1 chance to add to his Midlands Grand National win at Uttoxeter on Saturday. Ciaran Murphy’s Enjoy D’allen, third in BoyleSports Irish Grand National last year and set to run in the JP McManus colours this time is available at 25/1, Ronan McNally’s 2020 Troytown Chase winner The Jam Man is at 33/1 with Martin Brassil’s more recent Thyestes Chase winner Longhouse Poet another worthy contender at 20/1.
Leon Blanche, Head of Communications for BoyleSports said: “You only have to look back at the list of previous winners, which includes greats like Arkle and Desert Orchid, to get a flavour of just how iconic the BoyleSports Irish Grand National is. We are very proud and privileged to sponsor this landmark occasion of the 150th running of the race and with a €500,000 prize pot on offer, the most lucrative on the Irish National Hunt calendar, we are relishing another thrilling renewal at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.”
Peter Roe, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse added: “Last year’s success for Dermot McLoughlin and Sheila Mangan was very much one for the locals and we are delighted to see Freewheelin Dylan among a very strong entry for the 150th running of the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
“The fine tradition of the race and what it means to our neighbouring communities is what makes Easter Monday at Fairyhouse such a special occasion. It will mean so much to the team here to be able to welcome an Irish Grand National crowd back to the racecourse for the first time since 2019 and we can’t wait for Easter Monday to come around.”
Andrew Shaw, the IHRB’s Senior National Hunt Handicapper, said: “This year’s entry for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National is one of the strongest in recent times, with as many as 15 Grade 1 winners amongst the 93 entries. There is huge strength in depth to the race with the top 25 horses rated 150 or higher. Much of the credit must go to BoyleSports whose increased sponsorship has raised the profile of the race to a much higher level over the past five years.
“One of the more popular winners would be Max Flamingo, trained by local man Francis Casey. He was an impressive winner in Thurles last weekend, has a nice racing weight, and appears to have been trained specifically with this race in mind.
“There are many others with chances, too numerous to mention. This year’s race not only has quantity, but it is also full of quality, and has all the makings of a highly competitive race, as is usually the case with the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.”