2019 Irish Grand National preview: Gigginstown and Elliott launch 12-pronged attacks on Fairyhouse Easter featurePublished on: April 20, 2019Author: Jamie Clark
Three of the last four winners of the Grade A Irish Grand National over 3m 5f at Fairyhouse have carried the colours of major owners Gigginstown House Stud.
A dozen of the 30 runners in this year’s renewal of the Easter Festival’s big handicap chase on Monday (17:00) are set to sport those silks.
Getting a handle on them is tough, but the betting speaks in favour of Noel Meade trained six-year-old Tout Est Permis.
This young, improving chaser is in the form of his life after landing a hat-trick and being laid out for this since January.
Tout Est Permis is among the Irish National market principals at 10/1 with race sponsors Boylesports, who pay six places on it.
Meade saddled The Bunny Boiler off a light weight to win this back in 2002, but his sole runner this year is top rated off 157 and must shoulder 11st 7lb.
That normally would be a big negative, but this renewal is set to be on yielding ground at worst.
It gives the still unexposed stayer Tout Est Permis plenty to do, but he is open to any amount of further progress over fences and he’s proven he can cut in big field handicaps.
For evidence of that, see his victory in the Grade B Troytown over 3m at Navan on his penultimate start.
Although Tout Est Permis runs off 19lb higher here, the serious upward curve he’s on means he holds every chance of landing a four-timer.
All of the 11 other Gigginstown runners are at the time of writing are double his price, so that highlights he is clearly regarded as their best chance of a fifth Irish National winner.
Last year’s first three all back for another crack
Speaking of those, last year’s hero General Principle is 22/1 with William Hill to repeat for Gordon Elliott.
The 10-year-old is joined by the horse he just touched off by a head in Isleofhopendreams and 2018 Irish National third Forever Gold in the line-up again.
As the front two meet on 2lb better terms for the runner-up, that would suggest General Principle has it all to do to confirm the form of his very narrow victory.
Major factors to consider, however, are the different ground and the age of Isleofhopendreams.
While that one is now a 12-year-old and not open to further progress, he did run well when chasing home fellow Willie Mullins inmate Pairofbrowneyes, who retained his Leinster National crown at Naas last time out.
It’s very interesting that Isleofhopendreams’ recent conqueror didn’t take up his engagement at Aintree for the English Grand National and runs here instead.
Pairofbrowneyes is 10/1 with Paddy Power, who are also paying six places. Few horses can boast a consistent course record like last year’s third Forever Gold.
Also aged 12, this Edward Cawley trained veteran meets both the front two on better terms.
Forever Gold’s course and distance form figures read 2123 and, although conditional jockey Adam Short can only claim 3lb now instead of 5lb, he is overpriced at 33/1 with Boylesports.
His Fairyhouse victory was also on the forecast good-to-yielding surface forecast.
Isleofhopendreams, meanwhile, is 25/1 with Betfred to go one better off 2lb better terms with General Principle. All three are inevitably running off higher ratings for their exploits 12 months ago.
Burrows Saint unexposed for Mullins
Mullins has never won the Irish Grand National, but you could until recently have said the same about the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Top stable jockey Ruby Walsh rides Burrows Saint, who is in under a 7lb penalty and like Tout Est Permis a young improver.
This six-year-old seeks a hat-trick and has only had five starts over fences. Whether that is sufficient experience in this sphere remains to be seen, but there was lots to like about the battling qualities Burrows Saint showed when landing a 3m Grade 3 at Limerick.
Ladbrokes are 10/1 about him landing a third win on the spin in the Irish National. Of the other Mullins mounts not already mentioned, Total Recall is reasonably prominent in the betting and has form claims.
He is the same age as and rated 155 like Pairofbrowneyes, having chased home subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and stable companion Al Boum Photo at Tramore on reappearance.
Both that and Total Recall’s last run when third to Tout Est Permis off level weights were over inadequate trips.
Given he landed the valuable Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury off 147, a standout 16/1 with Coral can’t be dismissed.
Total Recall has also been lightly-raced since a busy campaign last term and Mullins could’ve laid him out for a serious tilt at this, having ran him in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, English Grand National and Punchestown Gold Cup last spring.
It’s hard to fancy any of the other Mullins mounts here. C’est Jersey is a maiden over fences and there’s little to no evidence he’ll stay this trip.
Bellow Mome, meanwhile, meets Pairofbrowneyes on 8lb better terms from the Leinster National but was beaten almost 10 lengths, so that doesn’t look enough to reverse form.
Jury Duty supported most from Elliott dozen
Jury Duty unseated Robbie Power in the English Grand National, but is rated County Meath handler Elliott’s best chance of winning the Irish equivalent here at 11/1 with betway.
A return to regulation fences is an obvious plus for this eight-year-old, who won the American Grand National over hurdles three starts ago.
Jury Duty also took a tired fall on his previous start over a marathon trip in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
That has to be a concern, but his last victory over 3m 2f in a competitive minor event at Down Royal suggests 3m 5f may be within his compass.
There are far greater stamina doubts hanging over Shattered Love – an Elliott trained, Gigginstown owned mare who has been highly tried this season.
While she looks one to avoid, Measureofmydreams is a standout 25/1 with Paddy Power but as short as 14/1 elsewhere. The 11-year-old has dropped to a mark of 136 which is a career low in this sphere.
His third to Minella Rocco in the 2016 National Hunt Chase marked him out as a proven stayer, and there are question marks hanging over other Elliott runners.
Dounikos won Ireland’s official Grand National Trial at Punchestown, but that’s his sole success in a staying chase.
Some look to have lost their way with A Toi Phil, Blow By Blow and Monbeg Notorious chief among them.
Gun Digger is Jack Kennedy’s mount and he was going well enough in the National Hunt Chase last time out when taking a tumble. If proving no worse for that faller, then the 25/1 on offer with Ladbrokes may be of interest.
McManus trio all in with chances
Gun Digger beat Whisperinthebreeze, who is the mount of Paddy Kennedy, at Leopardstown and that one also came down at Cheltenham.
Trainer Jessica Harrington saddled stable companion Magic Of Light to second in the English Grand National.
As a six-year-old Whisperinthebreeze remains open to tons of progress and can be backed at the same price as Gun Digger with Unibet. Both horses remain potential stayers for the future, however they perform here.
JP McManus has owned two Irish National winners in Shutthefrontdoor and Butlers Cabin, and five runners will go in his famous green and gold hooped silks this year.
While Any Second Now is Betfair’s 8/1 market leader for Ted Walsh after winning the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, the aforementioned Minella Rocco should thrive on the forecast ground.
This Jonjo O’Neill trained nine-year-old hasn’t recaptured the form of his early chase career, but won the 2016 National Hunt Chase and returned to Cheltenham 12 months later when runner-up to Sizing John in the Gold Cup.
That form is very strong as Minella Rocco again finished in front of Native River, who would land the Gold Cup in 2018. If the going stays good, then the 40/1 at William Hill is too big.
The biggest each-way value might well be on Auvergnat. Far from being just a Cross Country specialist trained by Enda Bolger, this nine-year-old landed the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas in real style and has proven stamina.
Ask the British handicapper what he makes of Auvergnat and he rates the horse in the high 150s. The Irish assessor has him on 143, meanwhile, and that disparity makes him look dangerously well-treated at 33/1 with Coral.