Tony McCoy aiming to be a National hero
Quantitaveeasing catches the eye in today’s Irish Grand National and victory would bring some comfort to Tony McCoy.
McCoy not only missed yesterday's start of the new domestic jump season because of duties at Fairyhouse — the previous campaign ended on Saturday with the Ulsterman out in front for the 16th successive time — but had salt rubbed in when he came down two out in the lead on favourite Noble Prince in the Grade One Powers Gold Cup, handing victory to Realt Dubh.
There will be big northern interest today in Hughies Grey — trained in Tyrone by Mervyn Torrens — and a surprise victory in the big race would bag a €50,000 bonus for following up last month’s win in the Ulster National at Downpatrick.
The Irish National, the race once known as the ‘Dubs' day out', hasn't been an easy one for punters in recent times, and nine of the last 10 winners were priced in double figures, three of which were 33/1 outsiders.
For the stats fans, it's worth noting that no horse carried more than 10st 12lbs to victory during that period with the last four winners being 10st 5lbs or less, so that's definitely worth taking account of.
Of the outsiders today, Sarteano is worth a second glance at around 20/1.
Dessie Hughes' gelding hasn't won a chase in nearly a year. However, he came close at both Kilbeggan and Navan as last season wound down and he shook off the cobwebs on the all-weather at Dundalk recently when placed in a two-mile handicap on the level.
Stablemate Deal Done ran well for a long way when finishing third to the well-backed Junior in the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham — form which got a boost when the fourth-placed Galaxy Rock subsequently sluiced up in a handicap at the same venue.
Aged just seven, Deal Done could have more to come, especially as he's attractively priced at around 20/1.
Jonjo O'Neill's Synchronised could struggle with top weight but he's a quality chaser and can't be ruled out. He took the Welsh National at Chepstow carrying plenty of weight but it's fair to say that he'd much prefer softer ground and that's reflected in his price of around 14/1.
Eoin Griffin's versatile The Last Derby gets in nicely at the weights.
The seven-year-old's last outing was back in October when, despite making a bad blunder at the last fence, he was a respectable third to Streets Of Gold on heavy ground in the Cork Grand National. That contest was run over three and a half miles so it wouldn't be a big shock to see him land a place at around 20/1.
The last favourite to win was Desert Orchid in 1990 so the 5/1 about ante-post favourite Beautiful Sound doesn't scream value.
However, Gordon Elliott has the nine-year-old in fine form and, if he gets into the race, he'll have a chance.
Back to yesterday’s Fairyhouse action, and Noel Meade may not have the strength in depth that saw him crowned champion trainer but in Realt Dubh he has a real stable star.
The seven-year-old was winning his third Grade One race of the season in claiming the feature at Fairyhouse.
This one may have been slightly more fortuitous than his two previous wins at Leopardstown earlier in the season but jumping is the name of the game.
Many will feel that Paul Nolan's Noble Prince was about to follow up his win at the Cheltenham Festival as McCoy appeared to have things under control at the head of affairs heading to the second-last fence.
However, he met it all wrong and took a heavy fall, leaving Paul Carberry to coast home 11 lengths clear on the 9-2 chance.
It will have been a bitter-sweet success for owner Derek Sharkey as his father Des owns Noble Prince.
Meade said: “We'll see how he comes out of this before deciding if we go for the two-mile novice at Punchestown.”