The Boylesports Irish Grand National takes place at Fairyhouse on Monday 2nd April at 5pm and with €500,000K up for grabs, it’s set to be a hotly contested race and at the latest forfeit stage there are still 55 potential runners in contention with only 30 places available at the starting line.
Among those who looks set to takes their chances at the Co. Meath racecourse are at least five runners who also hold entries in the Aintree Grand National on April 14th and with the two races so close together it’s highly unlikely they will run in both. A Genie In Abottle, Pleasant Company, Bellshill, Childrens List and Bless The Wings have all declared for Fairyhouse which could spell the end for their trip to Liverpool in just over two weeks time.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Bellshill was originally set to contend the Aintree Grand National 2018 but will now opt for Ireland instead. He will carry 11-02 on the day and is currently the second favourite on 9/1, behind Pairofbrowneyes on 7/1, also trained by Mullins. With only one prep race this season, Bellshill still looks a leading player and could do well.
He is one of six entries for Willie Mullins that have a guaranteed spot in the starting line-up as the trainer bids for his first Irish National win. In the last ten years, despite his best efforts, the best finish Mullins has secured as a trainer is second place and that was with Away We Go in 2013.
And if he wants to win the Irish Trainer Championship he needs to do well on Monday. Gordon Elliott has notched up total earnings of €4,101,514 so far this season with Mullins €521,626 behind him on €3,579,888. With €270,000 going to the winner, it could very well make a dent in the gap between them.
But things are never that simple and while Mullins has a significant number of charges in the running, Elliott has even more and could potentially saddle up 12 of the 30 runners in the Irish Grand National on Monday.
He too is still in search for his first Irish National winner and if he gets it, it may put him out of reach in the trainers championship.
Elliott said: “It’s a race I’d love to win and we went close with Bless The Wings a few years ago.
“I could run ten or 11 in it. Outlander will run at the top of the weights, while Folsom Blue, Monbeg Notorious and Dounikos are others who you’d like to think would have some sort of chance.”
Folsom Blue and Monbeg Notorious are both Gigginstown horses and are both in the top five of the betting on 12/1 with Paddy Power.