A typically wide-open renewal of the 3m 4f Grade B Irish Grand National Trial headlines the rearranged February 9 card at Punchestown (14:45) on Tuesday, and Mon Lino appeals each-way.
Trained by Paul Nolan, this eight-year-old is one of five entered for leading owner JP McManus. Mon Lino is only one from 12 over fences but ran a huge race in defeat on his last start in this sphere.
That came in another Irish Grand National trial, the Porterstown Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse when he went down fighting by 1 3/4 lengths to Killer Miller.
As Mon Lino now meets the winner on 3lb better terms, that gives him a big shout of reversing the form.
Nolan’s yard was buoyed by the success of Latest Exhibition in a Dublin Racing Festival Grade 1 as well. Off a nice racing weight of 10st 7lb, with the assessor only raising him 3lb for that defeat, Mon Lino, is worth considering each-way at 16/1 with Betfair.
Roaring Bull also among Irish Grand National Trial hopefuls
You can make a case for a few here. Other McManus runners Killer Miller and Minella Till Dawn are fancies with bookmakers in the betting.
The pick of three representing owners Gigginstown House Stud is Leopardstown’s Paddy Power Chase winner Roaring Bull.
Although now 7lb higher in the weights for a half-length victory over Christmas, the Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old has 5lb claimer Sean O’Keefe offsetting most of the rise.
He swooped late at Leopardstown to touch off Fitzhenry in the final strides.
Roaring Bull was far from disgraced off his current chase mark of 142 when a keeping on fifth in the Grade A Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park last time out.
He is on the downgrade here and a repeat of his sixth in the Irish National itself last year gives him claims.
Roaring Bull, who was also third to Burrows Saint in a Grade 3 at Limerick last season and filled the same spot on reappearance behind Champagne Classic in a Listed affair at Wexford, is 11/1 with Betway here.
Lord Royal fancied to follow-up
In the 3m Grade 3 Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle which has been added to the Irish Grand National Trial card from Clonmel (15:20), Lord Royal is taken to follow-up on an impressive debut win for Willie Mullins.
A typical French import to his Closutton stables, this five-year-old bolted up in the mud on his Irish bow over hurdles by 33 lengths.
Lord Royal was sent off odds-on and a made a mockery of his rivals in a 2m 4f maiden at Clonmel.
The way in which he was still going well and in total command suggested he would handle a step up to a stayers’ trip no problem.
What Lord Royal beat is open to question, but it was visually impressive. This demands more, however, but the market is with him at 10/11 with BetVictor to take the step up in grade into his stride.
Lord Royal gets weight from all but one rival and, granted further improvement, he appeals most.
Of the others, Well Set Up is a very game mare and two from two over the trip. Trained by Mark Fahey, the seven-year-old daughter of Gold Well landed back-to-back events at Cork – including in this grade.
She was then far from disgraced when runner-up to Fury Road and held just a length in a Grade 2 at Limerick’s Christmas Festival.
Although Well Set Up now meets the third home, Vis Ta Loi, on 3lb worse terms, she has beaten Mullins’ runner on two occasions.
Now given a 53-day break to freshen up, she can go well again. Odds of 10/1 with Paddy Power for Well Set Up reflect that here in a fascinating renewal of this staying novice hurdle.
Neverushacon the Cross Country choice
In the 3m 1f PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase which opens Irish Grand National Trial day (13:20), Neverushacon is better off at the weights with major rival Yanworth from their last meeting on the banks course.
That, coupled with the fact that Yanworth fell in a Cheltenham Cross Country event last time out, makes Jessica Harrington’s charge well worth a wager.
Now aged nine, Neverushacon has run well on all three chase outings this term.
He was giving 5lb to Yanworth in the Risk Of Thunder over course and distance when officially rated 140 back in November.
The pair now re-oppose off 8lb better terms and there’s just 1 1/2 lengths between them on that run. It gives Neverushacon a big shout of reversing form.
This Echo Of Light gelding was then far from disgraced when fifth to French raider Easysland off the same mark and over six furlongs further at Cheltenham.
Leading Irish owner McManus has since purchased the winner. That too looks significant, as it suggests early confidence in Yanworth for the Cheltenham Festival has waned.
Neverushacon was then a decent third on heavy ground over regulation fences at Kelso last month. He only weakened in the final half-furlong and was beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Big River.
Although Neverushacon is now rated 5lb lower than when chasing Yanworth home over course and distance, he has that 8lb swing in weight and is thus fancied.
With fellow McManus runner and Enda Bolger trained veteran Josies Orders no longer the force of old, this could see their monopoly on Irish Cross Country races broken.
Neverushacon is 11/4 with SportNation to land the spoils here.