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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 24 February 2021
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A pinsticker's guide to... the Irish Grand National

If you’re looking for something to stick a pin in ahead of today’s big race, look no further.

Alfie Sherrin won at Cheltenham last time out. Can he do it here again today?
Alfie Sherrin won at Cheltenham last time out. Can he do it here again today?
Image: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images

EASTER MONDAY IN Fairyhouse can only mean one thing — it’s Grand National time.

If you’d like to have a bet on today’s big race (it’s off at 4.50pm) but know precious little about racing and form, you’re in luck — we’re exactly the same (just kidding, sort of).

Here’s a brief summary on each horse’s chances to help you make your mind up. Let us know who you fancy in the comments below.

1. Roi du Mee (AP Heskin)

Trained by Gordon Elliot and owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud. Showed decent early season form to beat Forpadydeplasterer by 16 lengths in a Punchestown Grade 3 and then come second to Kauto Stone in Down Royal. The top weight in the field, and no horse has won carrying 11st7lb or more since 1995.

2. Magnanimity (RM Power)

Although only eight-years-old, already a seasoned campaigner. Never really lived up to the promise of last season. Should put in a clear round, but again, probably carrying too much weight to win.

3. Osana (AP Crowe)

A promising chaser in his day, finishing third behind Sizing Europe in the 2010 Arkle at Cheltenham. Since then, not a lot to suggest that he’ll be in the shake-up this afternoon.

4. Allee Garde (R Walsh)

The pick of Willie Mullins’s contenders. A faller when sent off second favourite for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last month. Has proven himself among good company this season. Decent claims with Ruby Walsh in the saddle.

5. Catch Me (MP Walsh)

A close second behind Cape Tribulation in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham. Encouraging improvement, but his best chasing days may be behind him and he’ll need to roll back the years to feature.

6. Gift of Dgab (KM Donoghue)

One of two runners trained by Tony Martin, who is notoriously good at beating the handicapper. A horse who has raced among Grade 1 company this season without making much of an impression.

7. Lastoftheleaders (Miss N Carberry)

Last year’s winning combination of trainer Arthur Moore and his niece Nina Carberry reunite for another shot at glory. Won a 3m handicap chase by 11 lengths here in December, but races off a much higher mark today. Cannot be ignored.

8. Western Charmer (DJ Condon)

Runner-up to Organisedconfusion in last year’s Grand National, though carried 7lbs less that day. Well off the pace in both the Paddy Power Handicap Chase and the Thyestes since.

9. Aigle D’Or (BJ Geraghty)

There’s a lot to be said for the Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty combination since their success at Cheltenham. A seasoned chaser with patches of form on good ground, but will need a bit of Geraghty magic.

10. Alfie Sherrin (RP McLernon)

Comes into the race in the best possible form after finishing strongly to win a 3m handicap chase at Cheltenham. No reason to rule out.

11. Four Commanders (DN Russell)

A worthy ante-post favourite, looking to give trainer Mouse Morris his second win in the National. A win and four places this season, including third behind Teaforthree at Cheltenham. Likely to go close.

12. Groody Hill (AP McCoy)

Bound to attract interest with AP McCoy on board. Winner of a 3m handicap chase at Navan before third behind Cross Appeal in the Paddy Power Chase. Gives 5lbs less to Cross Appeal today and will feature at the business end.

13. Leanne (MP Butler)

Ran well to finish fifth in the Paddy Power, and has improved since with wins in Clonmel and Leopardstown. Carrying more weight than usual, but possible each-way claims?

14. Prince Erik (A McNamara)

Disappointed hugely in last year’s National when sent off at the top end of the market. Has reverted to hurdles this season without much impression. Needs a career-best today.

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15. Shakervilz (DG Lavery)

Another from the Mullins yard. A distant third behind Voler la Vedette in the Christmas Hurdle but has failed to finish two runs over fences since then. Seventh here last year, and others in the stable have a better chance.

16. Arabella Boy (NP Madden)

Trained by Enda Bolger and ridden by Niall “Slippers” Madden. Second in the Leinster National which featured a handful of today’s contenders, and should at least put in a clear round.

17. Lion Na Bearnai (AP Thornton)

A 50/1 outsider when beating Four Commanders in a Grade 2 chase in Navan in February. Proved his worth among a decent field and, on that basis alone, could be the best of the big-priced outsiders.

18. Ninetieth Minute (AE Lynch)

A useful sort among graded company over hurdles, and has shown encouraging signs with a win and two places in beginners’ chases this year. May sneak into contention under the radar.

19. Cross Appeal (P Carberry)

A young gun from the Noel Meade stable. Brushed shoulders with the impressive First Lieutenant in a Cork Novice Chase last November, and then won the Paddy Power Chase off 10st4lb. Could be in the shake-up.

20. Start Me Up (BR Dalton)

Fifth behind Sunnyhillboy in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham, and third to Lion Na Bearnai and Four Commanders in Navan in February. Definite each-way value at 16/1 or higher.

21. The Last Derby (L Treadwell)

Sixth in last year’s National proves that he can get around the course in one piece. A similar result would be more than acceptable this time around.

22. Paddy Pub (TJ Doyle)

Has just out run the handicapper’s expectations to win twice in the last two months, but a major surprise if a couple aren’t better today.

23. Some Target (P Townend)

Pulled up in last year’s National and has never really got close enough to challenge in any of  his handicap outings since. Weights reflect that, but Ruby’s decision to ride Allee Garde instead may be telling.

24. Whatuthink (RC Colgan)

Recent form over fences suggests that he might be best avoided.

25. Whodoyouthink (M Darcy)

Will go off at long odds, but has enough interesting early-season chasing form to merit a second look.

26. Deal Done (BJ Cooper)

From the Dessie Hughes yard. Ninth in last year’s National and finished last by 40 lengths three weeks ago in his only outing since. Serious questions to be asked if he wins.

27. Out Now (PF Mangan)

Finished second behind Aintree hopeful Seabass last time out and so can’t be completely discounted, but unlikely to be good enough.

28. Saddlers Storm (RM Moran)

Third attempt at a Grand National after a fall in 2010 and pulling up in 2011. Was second behind subsequent Cheltenham winner Salsify in a hunter chase in February. Has Tony Martin finally got him right? Who knows?

29. Glam Gerry (B Hayes)

Out ran his odds to finish 10 lengths back in third in the Byrne Group Plate at Cheltenham. Seven furlongs further to travel today, so a bit of an unknown.

30. Raptor (DJ Casey)

Willie Mullins saddling the bottom weighted horse would usually be enough reason to take note. Not here though.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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