Andrew Thornton wins on board 33/1 shot last year. Will there be another big-priced winner? ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Horses for Courses

4 big-priced outsiders that could cause a shock in today’s Irish Grand National

If you want to have a small each-way flutter on today’s big race at Fairyhouse, one of these four might do the trick.

THIRTY CONTENDERS WILL do battle for the €141,000 top prize on offer in this year’s Irish Grand National, which takes place this afternoon at 4.5opm in Fairyhouse.

If you fancy having a small bet but don’t know much about horses — or simply don’t have time to wade through the racecard to try to pick a winner — let us help.

After doing a little bit of homework, we’ve picked four outsiders that could cause a shock this afternoon.  If all of these fall at the first fence, please don’t blame us. It’s probably best to treat them as (semi) educated guesses and with a giant pinch of salt.

All odds correct at the time of writing.

Questions Answered (20/1)

Why? Eric McNamara’s seven-year-old has been prominent this year, including a second-place finish in the Kerry Grand National and then third in the Munster Grand National last autumn. He didn’t have a lot left in the tank when he finished sixth behind Colbert Station (one of the top fancies for this year’s Aintree Grand National) in the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas but he will be carrying much less weight today and should benefit from that.

Why not? He has never won over a race over three miles or more before which is a worry.

Quietly Fancied (20/1)

Why? He sneaks in as one of those horses carrying the bottom weight of 9st10lb and has the ability to strike. His last race over fences was in the Munster Grand National where he was second to Raz de Maree, beating Questions Answered into third. Since then he has run four times over hurdles in an effort to protect his chasing handicap and give him the best possible chance of success today. His low weight will surely be a factor in the conditions.

Why not? His only win in the last year was in a rather weak handicap hurdle in Clonmel last November, although that was over three miles. His run in the Kerry Grand National, where he clearly wasn’t right and pulled up, may be a slight concern for some but he showed no ill-effects on his next run three weeks later.

Davy Russell on Start Me Up, centre (INPHO)

Start Me Up (25/1)

Why? Any horse owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud and trained by Charlie Swan deserves a look at the very least, particularly at these odds. Start Me Up was a game fifth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham 12 months ago where he was carrying considerably more weight than he will today, and a performance of that calibre would see him go close. His form in the early-season nationals is encouraging, although he will have to reverse placings with both of the horses mentioned above from their clash in Limerick in October.

Why not? He never offered much on good-to-soft ground in last year’s Grand National and pulled up two fences out. There haven’t been huge signs of improvement in his second season chasing.

Paddy Pub (33/1)

Why? This would be a shock but stranger things have happened. Paddy Pub was one of only nine finishers in this race last year and the ability to stay the distance and safely navigate the course can’t be written off completely. He’s carrying very little weight and has won at three miles over both hurdles and fences.

Why not? Ten-year-olds and older don’t have a great record in this race with only four wins in the last 20 years, though last year’s winner Lion na Bearnai bucked that trend. More worryingly is the fact that he has already been routed by some of today’s opponents, not least market leader Rich Revival who beat him by 37 lengths at the beginning of last month.

Who is your tip for today’s Grand National? Let us know in the comments section (before it wins, if that’s alright) >

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