The Aintree Grand National meeting comes up at a tricky time for Irish challengers. Just three weeks after the Cheltenham Festival in 2019 and only three and a half in advance of Punchestown, asking horses to run at all three is a taxing question.
There is still a strong looking Irish challenge, however, and we take aim at five of their biggest chances including a pair in the big race itself.
Having won the Grand National in 2018 and landed a fourth consecutive Cheltenham Festival success in March, it would be hard to start with any other raider than Tiger Roll.
He has plenty more on his plate than a current price of 4/1 suggests given that he is nine pounds higher than in 2018. He’s officially well in on his demolition job at Cheltenham, however, and will be one of the heaviest backed horses of the meeting.
Sent to the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival to avoid a clash with his ill-fated stablemate Sir Erec, he showed conclusively that he is far better than a handicapper. Always travelling strongly, the final two-length margin wasn’t representative of his superiority.
Squeezed up turning in, he showed a smart turn of foot to put the race quickly to bed after the last. This speed track has the potential to see him in an even better light.
Sent off 4/1 favourite for the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 2018, he failed to see out the last quarter of a mile up the famous hill. This trip should suit him better, missing Cheltenham this year to concentrate on Aintree.
The news broke last week that Derek O’Connor is booked to ride him on Thursday which is always a big plus in these amateur rider events and at the age of eight, there could be a little more to come from him yet.
Unbeaten in two starts, she holds entries in both bumpers with this meeting the aim after she scored at the Dublin Racing Festival. Both her wins have come on decent ground and she could well reap the benefit of avoiding Cheltenham.
That Dublin Festival win was the first Graded success for her trainer but given the impression that she made both that day and on her debut, it’s not going to be his only one.
Runner-up to Tiger Roll in the 2018 Grand National, his path back to Aintree has seen similar ground trodden. A run at Leopardstown over Christmas before the Thyestes has been the chosen direction in both campaigns.
Just a head behind Tiger Roll at the line last year and two pounds better off, he showed up better at Gowran this time around than he did before his 2018 attempt. He also went well for a long way in the 2017 edition of the Grand National when ninth, a mistake late on causing him to be beaten further than would’ve been the case.
The over-reaction to Tiger Roll in the market has led to him playing a leading part in our Grand National Tips for 2019.