Our Duke bids to spoil the Gigginstown party when he lines up for today’s BoyleSports €500,000 Irish Grand National. On what will be just his fourth start over fences, Jessica Harrington’s novice will bid to follow in the footsteps of Thunder and Roses and Shutthefrontdoor who were the most recent novices to win the Fairyhouse feature at the age of seven. In-form jockey Robbie Power has been on board for all his chase starts to date with his defeat of Coney Island at Leopardstown over Christmas undoubtedly the most impressive. However, given the dominance of lightly-weighted horses in recent years it may pay to concentrate on those lower down the handicap.
Abolitionist is one such contender and his jockey and trainer could not come here in better form having recorded a double at Cork yesterday. There is little doubt Ellmarie Holden’s gelding is well handicapped based on his four-length second to Empire Of Dirt at Navan earlier in the season, when Noble Endeavour, who subsequently won the prestigious Paddy Power handicap at Leopardstown’s Christmas fixture, was back in fourth. Confidently ridden by this season’s up-and-coming jockey Rachael Blackmore, the nine-year-old arrives here of the back an impressive win in the Leinster National at Naas.
Harry Fry saddles Fletchers Flyer who is likely to give a bold sight from the front as he did when landing a long-distance chase at Punchestown last year. It will be just the third time we have seen the nine-year-old this season but, given that he was off for three months prior to his Punchestown success, the absence is not of a concern and the assistance of Noel Fehilly is also a positive as he was on board for the two-length defeat of Forever Gold.
The pick of the Willie Mullins team looks to be Haymount who was a staying-on third behind Tiger Roll in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham despite previously looking a non-stayer at three miles. On the pick of his form when narrowly beaten by Coney Island, who ties in closely with favourite Our Duke, he would have an each-way chance.
2. Our Duke
3. Fletchers Flyer