Gigginstown may have dominated the Irish Grand National yesterday but it’s JP McManus that will have some serious representation at the Aintree Grand National 2018.
With six entries in the top 40 McManus is responsible for Minella Rocco, Anibale Fly, Carlingford Lough, Regal Encore, Pendra and Cause of Causes though there is some doubt over Cause Of Causes who appears to have suffered an injury since returning from the Cheltenham festival.
Trained by Anthony Honeyball, Regal Encore is looking like a decent proposition as he continues to prep for the £1m race with two important workouts over the next week including schooling over Lambourn’s Grand National fences under big-race partner Richie McLernon.
“Regal Encore is firmly on course for the race,” Honeyball said. “He’ll have an awayday on Thursday – just to get away from the yard and have a canter. Then he’ll go to Lambourn next week and have a school over the National fences.
“Richie McLernon, who won a Listed race on him at Ascot last month, keeps the ride. We’re all looking forward to the big day.”
Regal Encore ran in last year’s Grand National and got around to finish in eighth place behind the winner One For Arthur. He is currently available with most bookmakers at odds of around 33/1 which was his starting price last time but trainer Honeyball believes he can do better than those odds suggest.
“He’s been a bit hit-and-miss at times, I suppose, but most of the disappointing runs can be explained,” Honeyball said. “For instance, he was pulled up in the Hennessy last season as Barry Geraghty felt he had gone wrong behind, and then the next time out at Cheltenham he was nearly brought down twice.”
He continued: “He’s a talented horse and jumped the big fences brilliantly last year. I believe there’s room for improvement on his performance last year as he got quite well behind in the early stages and could never really get into it until the race was over.
“I’m very hopeful he can build on that, and it’s nice to be going into it this year firmly on the front foot after his win in a £100,000 race at Ascot.
“Richie got on well with him that day, and I think Regal Encore has a very realistic chance of winning. I certainly wouldn’t swap him. We all believe in him.”
With Regal Encore definitely running, Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, also confirmed the participation of Anibale Fly, Carlingford Lough and Minella Rocco. As mentioned earlier Cause of Causes looks doubtful and so far there has been no mention of Pendra.