A total of 124 horses, an increase of 34 on last year, have been entered for the €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, April 17th. Now the most valuable National Hunt race in Ireland, the entries for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National are dominated by Gordon Elliott.
In all, the season’s leading trainer has put 28 horses, by far the most of any trainer, in the race and he is responsible for the early top-weight Outlander. A top contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Outlander has been handed 11st 10lbs while his stable companions Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli are next on the list with 11st 8bs and 11st 7lbs respectively.
All three horses are owned by Gigginstown House Stud who have won the race for the past two years. Elliott has also entered last year’s runner-up, Bless The Wings who has been given 9st 11lbs while Noble Endeavor, a 10/1 co-favourite is further up the handicap on 11st.
The BoyleSports Irish Grand National will go a long way towards deciding who is crowned this season’s champion National Hunt trainer. Elliott has yet to win the race and the same can be said of the current champion trainer, Willie Mullins who has made 14 entries, headed by Alelchi Inois on 11st 5lbs.
His leading novice chaser Bellshill has been given 10st 9lbs while early 10/1 co-favourite The Crafty Butcher is on 9st 9lbs. Mullins has also entered his recent Fairyhouse winner Pleasant Company on 10st 8lbs. Pleasant Company beat 2015 BoyleSports Irish Grand National winner Thunder And Roses to win the Grade 3 At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at the course at the end of last month.
Eight of the first 10 horses home in last year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National have been entered again with the Mouse Morris-trained winner, Rogue Angel set to carry 10st 1lb this time. Morris has made five entries including Alpha Des Obeaux on 10st 7lbs and Thunder And Roses, the winner of the race two years ago, on 10st 6lbs. Folsom Blue finished fourth for Morris in 2016 and has been allotted 9st 6lbs at this early stage after his success at Navan on Saturday.
The Grade 1 winning novice chaser Our Duke, trained by Jessica Harrington is a notable entry and is set to carry 10st 13lbs while another top novice chaser, Joseph O'Brien’s Edwulf is on 10st 12lbs. Mall Dini, one of three 10/1 co-favourites, has been entered by Pat Kelly and has been allotted 10st 1lb. Minella Foru is another leading fancy and is on 10st 6lbs for Edward Harty.
The cross-channel challenge numbers 24 horses compared to 11 last year. Successful with Butlers Cabin in 2007 and Shutthefrontdoor in 2014, Jonjo O’Neill is one of 14 British-based trainers with entries in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National. O’Neill has entered five horses and among them are Shutthefrontdoor on 10st 4lbs, Minella Rocco on 11st 4lbs and More Of That with 11st 3lbs.
David Pipe, whose father Martin won the race with Omerta, ridden by the then amateur rider Adrian Maguire, in 1991 has made four entries. The quartet is headed by Un Temps Pour Tout on 11st 1lb. No stranger to recent success at Fairyhouse, Kerry Lee has entered both Bishops Road (10st 5lbs) and Goodtoknow (10st 1lb). Kim Bailey has also put two in the race with Harry Topper given 10st and Knockanrawley on 9st 8lbs while also doubly represented at the initial entry stage is Paul Nichols who could be represented by Saphir Du Rheu (11st 2lbs) and Le Mercurey (10st 10lbs). With 9st 10lbs, Vyta Du Roc could carry the hopes of Nicky Henderson.
Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at BoyleSports, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Ireland’s richest steeplechase, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, with an increased prize pot of a record €500,000. We are looking forward to the prestigious race steeped in history at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. With the significant increase in prize-money, we are delighted to see so many overseas entrants for the race in what is looking set to be the best ever BoyleSports Irish Grand National. We are very proud to have our name associated with the richest jumps race in the country. BoyleSports continues to invest in the Irish sporting industry, with Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker also sponsoring the BoyleSports Champion Chase and the BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby.”
Peter Roe, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, said, “This is shaping up to be a race of the highest quality. The BoyleSports Irish Grand National is worth a record €500,000 this year and has attracted a truly top-class entry of 124 horses which is a modern day record. It is great to see such interest from overseas and with 24 British-trained entries, we are set for a highly competitive renewal of this very historic race which will, as always, be staged on Easter Monday, 17th April at 5pm. Bookings for the event are ahead of last year as people anticipate a great race. With the increased prize fund thanks to the generosity of our sponsors BoyleSports, we have been rewarded with a tremendous entry.”
BoyleSports betting for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, Easter Monday, April 17th, 2017 is as follows:
10/1 The Crafty Butcher
10/1 Noble Endeavor
10/1 Mall Dini
14/1 Minella Foru
14/1 Saphir Du Rheu
14/1 Pleasant Company
14/1 Alpha Des Obeaux
14/1 Our Duke