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Irish Grand National preview

Easter Monday traditionally means Irish National Day at Fairyhouse, so up steps Ben Homans, @blue_bajan, with the preview. It's a National, so it goes without saying it's mighty hard to narrow it down. Currently on Betfair, it's just over 10/1 the field.


Irish Grand National, 16.50, Fairyhouse, 3m5f.

Just six days before the English Grand National, we have the running of the 143rd Irish Grand National, which is a gruelling 3m 5f. Previous winners have included Desert Orchid, Numbersixvalverde, Butlers Cabin and Niche Market - some top staying chasers indeed, you have to admit! Questions Answered has been pulled out and won't run in the race. Here we look at the 29 runners which will contest the start line for the 2013 Irish Grand National:

I'm a firm believer of trends, with weights in staying chases being so key. The only thing is this year, Junior, takes top weight of 11st 12lbs, leaving the rest of the runners off less than 11st. He will do ever so well to win with such a weight and he isn't getting any younger. With that in mind, it will be hard to whittle the field down!

Jadanli's win in the Goff Thyestes chase is a good form line throughout the recent years. His run at the festival behind Golden Chieftain wasn't that bad. You would think he has had a long and hard season this year and could find this a bit too much after what he has been up to. You Must Know Me looks badly handicapped of late, with his mark being a tad too high for what he has achieved. Muirhead has been a great servant in recent years, his form for me however isn't eye-catching and I'd be shocked if he was to take victory. Our Victoria is ideally suited over a shorter trip and she could just be making up the numbers today.

Imperial Shabra is a big price and you can see why. Apart from a cheeky win at Stratford last year, he just isn't interested anymore. Whodoyouthink's OR has risen dramatically for what he has achieved. I'm shocked to see why he has been creeping up the weights and I think the handicapper has got him out of this now. Cootamundra, Carloswayback, Blazing Beacon and He'llberemembered have both been campaigned over shorter trips this year and look up against it with this seasons form lines. Romenesco has been a likeable horse this year, with encouraging runs at Cheltenham twice this season, but the ground is a worry for me. The two recent 'poor' runs have come on heavy ground and tomorrow he is on running on soft. The ground could have cut up by the start of the race and I would have ground worries. If the ground isn't too bad, a well waited run will be delivered and he wont be too far away. Liberty Counsel has contested much lesser races and as with Romenesco, the ground is a major worry. Start Me Up is one of just five Gigginstown runners and looks like he will be one of their lesser chances. In and out of form this season and the profile for me isn't right for this race. Magnanimity looks exposed and this years form isn't nothing to note. If his run in the Hennessy was better, he could have been considered. Looking back at Paddy Pub's 4th in the 2012 running as not too bad, but his overall record over such longer distances makes you wonder. Only 22 days since his last run too. Quietly Fancied could easily be fancied to take the prize home. Some spins over hurdles lately, he has relished the longer trips he has contested. This distance is an unknown, it could be all ok until half a mile out and that's the worrying sign.

Previous winners' form usually has a few strong form lines and Away We Go of Willie Mullins has better hurdles form than his chase form, even though he has a much higher OR. With larger fields he hasn't been seen to run at his best and I'm unsure the nature of the race will suit. Carlingford Lough is still unexposed over fences and he is one for the future. Challenging Nationals after only this season contesting Beginners Chases to me is something of a dream. On Cross Appeal's earlier promise a few seasons ago, he would be a worthy favourite in this line-up. Since his attitude has taken a dip and he hasn't been the same horse of late. He pulled up in last year's running of the race and a place is what he can achieve at best! Rapidolyte De Ladalka has been running this side of the Irish Sea and has been running over shorter trips. This race should be too tough for him in my opinion. Rich Revival has knocked up a treble after over 623 days off and is improving. He has shown creditable form over three miles and the question is whether he will get the trip. I think he could run well but there might be a few more in the race that could put the question up to him. Jacksonslady is another who is contesting a much longer trip for the first time and she has shown more speed than stamina to make you believe she is the sort of race winner. Competitive Edge to me looks like he been poorly placed throughout this season in the preparation leading up to this, never looking top class and a stayer too, I'm not the biggest Edge fan! Marasonnien is shorter than I expected for what he has achieved this season. Easily brushed aside by The Westerner Boy and also he was behind Home Farm too. With Home Farm, his form with White Star Line is reasonable considering White Star Line got third at Cheltenham last month. Although the win against the Cheltenham third was in a Beginners Chase. Panther Claw is a gutsy horse who could relish the trip. He does take some time to get going and it could be too late when everything clicks. Paul Nolan does think a lot of him. Goonyella and Sweeney Tunes are the two horses which I think could take the prize. The reason being Goonyella's performances under rules around right handed tracks have been much stronger than those around left handed tracks. Point winner who jumps well and could run a sound race. As with the former, he is a good jumper too, which will have him in going longer than many of the others. Goonyella looks like he might relish the trip more but Sweeney Tunes has been prepped for the race nicely and hopefully they can run well.

Main Selections: Goonyella and Sweeney Tunes
Potential Frame Fillers: Romonesco - Paddy Pub - Panther Claw

You can read more of Ben's work on his blog


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