Elliott can deliver big killer blow
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Cause Of Causes heads the 29-runner field for today's BoyleSports Irish Grand National for which his trainer, Gordon Elliott, will have eight runners.
As well as Cause Of Causes, Elliott will also send out Mala Beach who has long been disputing favouritism for the Fairyhouse feature and looks to carry strong form into the race from the Bobbyjo Chase where he fell well travelling well at the second last fence.
Davy Russell is booked to ride Mala Beach and will be hoping that the illness which prevented him riding at Fairyhouse yesterday will have passed.
Elliott said: "It would be unbelievable to win an Irish National. We're firing as many darts at it as we can.
"Mala Beach is in great form, I couldn't be happier with him and the more rain that comes the better."
With Willie Mullins having no runner in the race Elliott moved quick to book Ruby Walsh for Bless The Wings, a course and distance winner and one who was third in the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, the selection from this corner is another Elliott inmate, the Gigginstown-owned, Killer Crow.
The 3m5f trip is a concern for Elliott but his form is rock solid and was given a boost at Cheltenham when Empire Of Dirt won last time out.
Of Killer Crow, Elliott said: "Killer Crow is in very good form. The one worry would be whether he'll stay the trip, but Jack Kennedy rides him and claims 3lb off him. He'll drop him in and hunt away.
"If he stays the trip he's got a massive chance."
Jim Dreaper's Venitien De Mai is a worthy co- favourite but has gone up a good bit in the weights for his Leinster National win and that has to be a concern. Bonny Kate is another who is expected to run a big race for Noel Meade, while last years winner Thunder And Roses is one of three runners for Sandra Hughes.
Katie Walsh will team up with her husband, Ross O'Sullivan and Baie Des Iles who will appreciate any rain that falls at the Meath venue prior to the race.
The chief supporting race on Irish Grand National day is the Grade Two Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle in which Alan Fleming's Gwencily Berbas looks capable of obliging.
The lightly raced five-year-old has been absent since running in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle where he finished third behind Arctic Fire and World Hurdle runner-up Alpha Des Obeaux and he is a horse is held in high regard and should be up to winning this ahead of the likes of Dedigout and Tagl.