STAR PREVIEW: Irish Grand National 2021

The 2021 Irish Grand National, Fairyhouse
Live on Racing TV from 1.00pm and RTE 2 from 2.30pm (Ireland only)


Readers had a wonderful tart to the Easter period with Ashdale Bob staging a big redemption to take the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle yesterday after the race came apart from the home turn. Jessica Harrington’s charge had to fight for all his worth to give 5lbs to Decimation, but managed to grind out a deserved victory and reward those who kept the faith at 14/1. He looks a fine chasing prospect for next season and three miles will surely be worth a try once again with him.

Favourite Gentlemansgame was only third, but perhaps wasn’t suited by a drop back in trip on quicker ground and remains a prospect to look forward to in the future. Master McShee was perhaps disappointing – maybe held up by his stone bruise – and looks like one for handicaps off his mark, especially if he’s dropped a pound or two. That said, Echoes In Rain was a sensational winner and would have every right to take on Appreciate It at Punchestown if connections so choose.

The action continues today, with ITV viewers getting a bumper day of flat action from Kempton and jumping action from Fairyhouse, where we’ll be focusing.

It’s fitting that this year’s Irish national (5.00) – which is back following the loss of last year’s renewal to the pandemic – is a tremendously contested renewal with multiple horses holding serious chances on their best form, and there are any amount of cases that could be made.

It’s easy to see the claims of favourite Latest Exhibition, who has run into Monkfish the last twice in Grade 1 company and who could be well treated off 153 in relation to the superstar novice. The Irish national hasn’t been won off topweight for a long time, but the very high-class novice Our Duke obliterated his opposition from the same mark and it’s not hard to see Latest Exhibition going very close.

The market has already found him however, and 4/1 about his chances looks only fair enough all things considered. The strategy here is to take two each/way against the field.

Brace Yourself was a well beaten second behind Court Maid in the Porterstown over course and distance, having travelled smoothly into the race before Court Maid went into overdrive. His finishing effort there didn’t suggest he stayed this trip well, but he’s now back on good ground (won Gowran Beginners’ chase on it it) and with a mark of 137 and a racing weight of 10-8, is 22lbs better off with Court Maid for a 13-length turnaround whilst he’s 16lbs better off with Latest Exhibition for a seven-length defeat in the Florida Pearl novice chase when he arguably set too hard a pace in the conditions. It’s probably asking a bit much of him to turn around the form based solely on those weights, but it’s entirely possible that he’s amongst the best handicapped horses here.

Willie Mullins’ Agusta Gold is the other suggestion. She’s clearly been aimed at the race, – it’s her first start for the Champion trainer, having run for Mags beforehand – and she was just caught on heavy ground by a lower weighted stablemate in the 2019 trial for this. That was on heavy ground but she handles a yielding surface just fine and her form with Elimay now reads exceptionally well, whilst a stay on fourth in a decent handicap hurdle at Navan looks like the perfect setup.

Of the other market leaders, Sempo’s finally running at a marathon trip and is well handicapped but must improve his jumping.

In the Devenish Chase (4.20) Fakir D’oudaries looks to have found a decent opportunity if he’s over his Cheltenham exploits when second to Allaho in the Ryanair Chase, although that was arguably the hardest race of the entire week and there has to be a question mark over whether he can run to his best. That said, none of the field makes a huge amount of appeal to beat him.

Before that, there’s a good renewal of the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle (3.50) where French Dynamite, who didn’t stay 3m when first behind Flooring Porter at Christmas, could prove to be value against Pertemps second The Bosses Oscar. He was caught in the last few yards of the Lismullen Hurdle on his seasonal debut and will have a big say in the finish here based on that form, with the ground not an issue for him either.

The Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle sees the Boodles winner Jeff Kidder bid to follow up that shock success, but Teauphoo, a 15-length winner over Druid’s Altar here on his Irish debut who followed up nicely in the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle, ought to have his measure. There’s no interest in taking 8/13 about his chances though.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100)
BACK French Dynamite 1 pt win in 3.50 Fairyhouse at 3/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Brace Yourself 1 pt each/way in 5.00 Fairyhouse at 12/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Agusta Gold 1 pt each/way in 5.00 Fairyhouse at 8/1 with starsports.bet


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