Jumps Season - At The Races

BoyleSports Irish Grand National

    Fairyhouse, Sunday 17th April 2017.
  • Stats Guides

Last Year's Winner: Rogue Angel

Rogue Angel
G N Fox (3)
M F Morris
10st 6lb
Starting Price:
Season Form Figures:
Previous Best:
1st - Kerry National (Grade A), Listowel (Sept 2015)

In the last ten years, just eight of the 40 win-and-place positions were not filled by horses rated between 130 and 140 so that’s your ratings band to concentrate on. Since Flashing Steel won under 12st back in 1995, horses carrying over 11st have struggled with only Bobbyjo coming out on top and he was hardly overburdened at just 3lb over that threshold.

In fact, only three horses carrying over 11st have even hit the frame in the last decade (they have been heavily outnumbered in fairness with approximately 15% representation) and nine of the last 21 winners carried no more than 10st 1lb so do not be frightened of supporting horses running from outside the handicap like four of the last 12 winners.

It has been the National Hunt Chase over 4m at the Cheltenham Festival that has had most impact of late with that novices’ chase featuring four of the last ten winners including Shutthefrontdoor and Thunder And Roses in two of the last three years who were both unplaced at Cheltenham.

Three of the last ten winners finished unplaced in the previous year’s Irish Grand National – Rogue Angel unseated his rider on the first circuit in 2015 before winning the 2016 edition. His victory was a second in as many years for Gigginstown House Stud whose Thunder And Roses leading home a 1-2-4 for them in 2015.

In victory 11 seasons ago, Numbersixvalverde was completing the Thyestes-Irish National double and was one of four horses in the last 18 years to have run in that competitive Gowran Park handicap. Just shading the Thyestes as a guide, however, is the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Meeting as five of the last 19 winners contested that prize. The 2006 Irish National winner, Point Barrow, ran in both races.

In the last ten years, just eight of the 40 win-and-place positions were not filled by horses rated between 130 and 140

Also respect previous course winners. They don't race too often at Fairyhouse so course-winning form carries some significance. Flashing Steel was a four-time course winner, the 2003 hero, Timbera, had won three times at the track before whilst the winners in 1998 and 2001, Bobbyjo and David's Lad, had won twice over the same turf, Point Barrow had also previously won at Fairyhouse as had Bluesea Cracker who had won on her only previous chase run at the course and Thunder And Roses won a novice chase at Fairyhouse three months earlier.

As far as age is concerned, since Flashing Steel won 22 years ago, no winner had been aged older than nine until up until Lion Na Bearnai’s surprise 33/1 success five seasons ago as a ten-year-old novice which was then immediately followed by another shock success for a ten-year-old when Liberty Counsel won at 50/1. Liberty Counsel was also putting an end to the run of eight straight victories for first or second-season chasers.

Ireland’s most prestigious handicap chase used to be a punters’ race up until 2006 as only one winner in the previous 20 years had started any bigger than 14/1 (17 of which started in the first six in the betting) but winners have been mighty hard to find in the last ten years with eight starting at no shorter than 20/1. Last year’s winner was sent off at 16/1. Shutthefrontdoor in 2014 became the first outright favourite to win since Omerta in 1991.

The British-based trainers had never won the Irish Grand National until Rhyme 'N' Reason took the race as a novice in 1985 for David Murray-Smith. Since then Desert Orchid, Omerta, Mudahim (all 11-year-olds), Granit d'Estruval, Butler’s Cabin, Niche Market and Shutthefrontdoor have come out on top for the top for the raiding party so it's been a pretty good return. Four of Jonjo O’Neill’s last seven runners have either won or placed.

One Irish trainer to keep on your side is Arthur Moore. Successful in 1996 with Feathered Gale and four years ago with Organisedconfusion, he has also gone close on three more occasions supplying the runner-up. No one will ever surpass Tom Dreaper however who won this handicap on ten occasions including for seven consecutive years between 1960 and1966 which included successes for Arkle and Flyingbolt. Willie Mullins has a terrible record however with just two of his 26 career runners finishing placed and, amazingly, he didn’t even have a runner last season.

At a glance summary

Officially rated between 130 and 140
First or second-season chasers
Contested the National Hunt Chase
Previous course-winning form
Owned by Gigginstown House Stud
Horses trained in Britain (notably by Jonjo O’Neill)
Trained by Arthur Moore
Carrying over 11st
Aged 11+ (unless trained in Britain)
Trained by Willie Mullins
Start at a single-figure SP

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