It’s Irish Grand National Day at Fairyhouse and, having already scored in a competitive handicap at the meeting, Danny Mullins takes us through the card.
14:05 - Farmhouse Foods Novice Handicap Hurdle
I think the top-weight here, French Light will run a big race. He was a bit disappointing in Downpatrick but if you go back to his run in Punchestown, where he got disqualified for carrying the wrong weight, he was second to Thedevilscoachman that day and he’s won on a bit of good ground in America before, so the drying conditions are really going to suit. Richie Condon takes a valuable 7lb off and having ridden a recent Cheltenham Festival winner, he’s a good booking.
14:40 - Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle
Teahupoo for Denise Foster and Puppy Power here has won a couple of races since being bought from France but that’s been on softer ground. I wonder how sharp he’ll be on this better ground. I’d give Busselton another chance here. He was disappointing in the Boodles in Cheltenham but the ground was a little bit dead and he just didn’t jump with fluency in a big field. I just think on a bit of nice ground and a small field, it replicates the conditions where he was a good third at the Dublin Festival and I would forgive him his last run.
15:15 - Fairyhouse Steel Handicap Hurdle
Max Flamingo won quite well in Leopardstown the last day where landed a maiden hurdle. The form’s been franked by the third, who’s won a maiden since as well, and I think he’s still well treated off a mark of 120. The step up in trip should suit and he’s definitely one to keep on side.
I ride It Could Be You for Tom Mullins. He’s won a bumper round the track already and he had quite a decent run the last day in a decent novice hurdle the last day behind You Raised Me Up. He looked like he was staying on that day and if he can improve for that run he could be an each-way bet here.
15:50 - Underwriting Exchange Hurdle (Grade 2)
I like French Dynamite in this. He skipped Cheltenham having won well in Leopardstown the last day and he liked the better ground. I think he’s going to take all the beating here. Some of the others like Beacon Edge, his Cheltenham run might just flatten him out a little bit. For an each-way bet, Stormy Ireland seems to be in good order since coming back to Willie’s and back hurdling there could be a bit more to come from this mare. She showed a decent level for Willie a couple of seasons back.
I ride Scarpetta, who was a little disappointing in Navan. He’s shown snippets of good form and if he can run to the level he showed behind Bachasson earlier in the year, he’d have his chance. The last time he won was on good ground in Thurles, back in 2019, and hopefully he’ll bounce back. The trip might be a little sharp for him though and he just needs to show a little bit more spark.
16:20 - Devenish Chase (Grade 2)
Fakir D’oudairies sets the standard here. He was a good second to Allaho in the Ryanair where he didn’t really travel all that well. I think bigger fences around Fairyhouse definitely will suit him as I think the speed in the race in Cheltenham took him off his feet.
I ride Annamix in this and while he’s been beaten a fair distance on his last two, I think back on good ground he could be one that will surprise a few here. He’s a very good jumper and he’s definitely not one to rule out.
Paul Townend rides Easy Game for Willie in this race. He just needs to get his act together, his jumping has let him down on his last couple of starts and Battleoverdoyen looked quite disappointing behind Allaho the last day. They’re all going to have to improve to get to Fakir D’oudairies.
17:00 - BoyleSports Irish Grand National Chase (Extended Handicap Chase) (Grade A)
Latest Exhibition is going to start the favourite here. His form all year has been good, running behind Monkfish and that reads very solid here. Novices have a very good record in the race but with 11st10lb over 3m5f around Fairyhouse, he’s going to need to be every bit as good as his form suggests he is. I think he can do it but I’d be looking for a bit more value.
Agusta Gold has been bought by Willie Mullins to go for this race. I’ve ridden her quite a bit and I won on her earlier in the season around Fairyhouse. She’s a solid mare who you know will stay the trip. I think she’s definitely a bit of value.
Going down through the field, there’s another horse I’ve watched quite a bit through the season called Discordantly. His jumping has just let him down so many times but the last day in Cheltenham he looked to be getting into the race down the hill. He just flattened out a little bit late on but I think if he builds a bit of confidence off the back of that he could have a chance. Puppy Power has retained faith in him and he could run a big race.
I take the ride on Salsaretta who bounced back to a little bit of form in Cheltenham having been very disappointing behind Agusta Gold back in January. Willie has just taken his time with her since then and her work at home has been good. With that confidence boost in Cheltenham, she definitely has a better chance than the betting suggests. I think she’s a solid each-way bet.
17:40 - Fred Kenny Lifetime Service To Racing Handicap Chase
I like Valdieu here. He ran solid in a 2m5f handicap chase at Leopardstown the last day and the fact that he jumped well on nice ground gives him a decent chance here. If he can reproduce that form, he’s the most likely winner of the race.
The Gunner Murphy might give him a good run for it. He was second in Down Royal on St Patrick’s Day and while he hasn’t done as much winning as you would have liked to see, I think he could be well treated off a mark of 120, which is 9lb lower than his hurdles mark. He’s done enough to suggest he has a race like this in him and can give Valdieu something to think about here.