Gigginstown going all out in grand bid
Almost half runners in field belong to O'Leary
Monday's BoyleSports Irish Grand National was whittled down to 30 runners and three reserves yesterday morning and by 10am tomorrow those reserves will either be declared or have to wait for another day.
All three of those on the waiting list are JP McManus-owned, one of which, the first reserve Oscar Knight, was said to be well supported this week, and McManus has three others in the race. Barry Gerraghty opting for Minella Foru and Mark Walsh riding previous Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor.
It's a race that is dominated by Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott, though.
Desperately seeking to bring home as much of the €500,000 pot as he can to be crowned Ireland's champion trainer for the first time and about 10 years ahead of what he expected, Elliott is due to saddle 10 of the 30 runners. Gigginstown own just short of half the field, 14 sets of their maroon colours will be required for the Easter Monday showpiece.
If Bryan Cooper had difficult choices to make in the past, it was never this numerically challenging for the O'Leary's number one jockey, that said, most of their challengers don't realistically pose a threat of winning the race and Cooper has opted for Elliott's General Principle over the likes of Tiger Roll and Lord Scoundrel.
Bless The Wings, not owned by Gigginstown, but first reserve in the Aintree Grand National last week, just scraped in at the last minute and will be ridden by Jack Kennedy.
The ladies combined on Easter Monday when Sandra Hughes and Katie Walsh won the race with Thunder And Roses a couple of seasons ago and he runs this time for Mouse Morris, but Ellmarie Holden and Racheal Blackmore will look to follow Hughes and Walsh's famous triumph with Leinster National winner Abolitionist, a very lively contender.
And to get this far without mention of Willie Mullins. How interesting would the title race become if he could take home the first prize with one of his three runners?
If he could claim a first Irish Grand National, it would hardly come at a better time. Ruby Walsh's choice, Haymount, will be a popular choice among punters.
A full preview of Monday's Irish Grand National, due off at 5pm, will be carried in Monday's Herald.
Fairyhouse's Easter Festival begins tomorrow and Yorkhill and Let's Dance are the two stars on show in the Grade One races, Mullins will be hoping Yorkhill can give him a first win in the Ryanair Gold Cup.
Elsewhere on the card, Red Jack has changed ownership since beating Cheltenham runner-up Debuchet at Naas and that form should be good enough to make a winning debut in the McManus colours.