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Nolan looks for his star to put on an Exhibition


Grand chance: Bryan Cooper on Latest Exhibition

Grand chance: Bryan Cooper on Latest Exhibition

Grand chance: Bryan Cooper on Latest Exhibition

The Boylesports Irish Grand National is scarcely recognisable from years gone by as it attracts a much better calibre of animal and today's renewal is a prime example with Latest Exhibition swerving Grade One engagements in order to tackle the €400,000 prize.

The next port of call for Paul Nolan's stable star had been much debated, but Ireland's richest jumps race was preferred over a trip to the Cheltenham Festival and it's easy to see why despite the exciting novice being saddled with top-weight.

The Grade One-winning hurdler has found only the mighty Monkfish too good in three Grade One contests, including his last two defeats over fences, and the eight-year-old has the perfect profile for the race with yielding ground in his favour.

The extreme trip will play to his strengths with Bryan Cooper's mount setting a high bar for the others to reach and while there may be no Tiger Roll, this is one of the best Irish Nationals in recent times.

Tom Mullins' Court Maid landed the Porterstown in sensational fashion over course and distance last November and warrants respect while Denise Foster's Escaria Ten was just touched off when backed into favourite for the National Hunt Cup over a similar distance at Cheltenham last month.

Foster is triple-handed with two other exciting novices as Thyestes Chase winner Coko Beach, which subsequently landed a Navan Grade Two, bids for a rare big-race double under exciting 7lb conditional rider Jordan Gainford.

Jack Kennedy has sided with Thyestes runner-up Run Wild Fred, however, with the seven-year-old in search of his first chase success after some decent efforts in defeat while Agusta Gold is under new ownership with the recent Grade Three winner respected on his first start for champion trainer Willie Muillins.

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Sempo is another yet to score over larger obstacles and has attracted significant support, but stablemate Home By The Lee may be the better of Joseph O'Brien's quartet having stuffed Enjoy D'allen last time out at Naas.

The Big Dog loved the larger field and a demanding trip when taking the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February with Peter Fahey's eight-year-old another live contender in a National that will take some winning.

The cream has risen to the top in recent years, though, and it can do so again with Latest Exhibition primed to illustrate his class and repay the boldness of connections to land a first National for Nolan and Cooper.

Willie Mullins has five runners as he attempts to win the race for just a second time after Burrows Saint in 2019.

Mullins ended his hoodoo in style when saddling the first three home when the race was last run as it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year.

He will be hoping for a similar result again in today's feature with the Closutton handler represented by Brahma Bull, Salsaretta, Agusta Gold, Dragon D'Estruval and Robin De Carlow, while Burrows Saint is a leading fancy for the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

His assistant David Casey gave the latest on the stable's quintet.

"The better ground will help Brahma Bull. He was pulled up in the Thyestes on heavy ground, but he will be better on the drier ground," he said.

"Salsaretta ran well in Cheltenham. Hopefully that won't have too much of an effect on her. It was a tough race, but the step up in trip with suit.

"Agusta Gold is new to the yard so we are still learning about her. She has some decent form. The trip won't be an issue. She goes there with a chance.

"Dragon D'Estruval has been hunter chasing. The trip will suit and hopefully he can be competitive.

"Robin De Carlow hasn't run for a long time, but has some very good form in the book. She might need the race after such a long break, but she has been working and schooling well so hopefully she can run a good race."

Elsewhere on today's card, Noel Meade's Beacon Edge ran a cracker when fourth in the Stayers' Hurdle after possibly not lasting the trip having travelled smoothly and he tops the market for the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle (3.50).

There are dangers lurking in the Grade Two with Foster's The Bosses Oscar coming here on the back of a fine second in the Pertemps while the classy French Dynamite is of real interest under Rachael Blackmore.

Mouse Morris' charge didn't seem to stay three miles when fifth in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle but this 2m4f trip should be far more to his liking and his half-length second to Sire Du Berlais in the Lismullen Hurdle sets the standard.

Fakir D'oudairies has been the bridesmaid in five Grade Ones since last getting his head in front here 17 months ago but O'Brien's charge can have his day in the sun to take the Grade Two Devenish Chase (4.20).

The six-year-old was no match for the brilliant Allaho in the Ryanair Chase last month, but this is a different kettle of fish altogether.

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