grand, gallant get favouritism
BoyleSports go 10/1 the field for Irish showpiece
Grand Jesture and Gallant Oscar have been installed 10/1 joint favourites by sponsors BoyleSports for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday following the release of the weights yesterday afternoon.
The sponsors are already going non-runner/no-bet for the race which was won last year by leading Aintree Grand National hope Shutthefrontdoor.
Gordon Elliott's Gigginstown pair of Don Cossack and Roi Du Mee currently head up the weights on 11st10lbs and 11st respectively with Noel Meade's Gigginstown owned Wounded Warrior also on 11st as they look to win the race for the first time since Hear The Echo in 2008.
There are a total of three of this year's Cheltenham Festival winners included in the race with Cause Of Causes, The Package and Rivage D'Or all holding entries alongside last weekend's Midlands National winner Goonyella, who is one of three entered by four-time winner Jim Dreaper.
In total, there are nine British trained entries with four of the last 11 winners going for export and Tom Gibney has included the 2012 winner Lion Na Bearnai.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins looks set to be without a runner in the English Grand National at Aintree next month and he has amazingly yet to win the Fairyhouse feature and has just two entries in this year's renewal, with Perfect Gentleman, fourth in the four-miler at Cheltenham, and Dogora, fourth in the Cross Country race last week, his two contenders.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that John Kiely's Carlingford Lough will not contest the Aintree Grand National after finishing ninth in last Friday's Gold Cup behind Coneygree.
The Irish Hennessy winner was alloted with top weight for Aintree but Punchestown looks like his next possible engagement.
"He's come back fine," reported his trainer John Kiely. "We agreed the ground probably wasn't ideal, but I'm not sure he would have been good enough anyway.
"I think we'll give our horse a break for a couple of weeks and see how he is after that. He could go to Punchestown, maybe."
Thurles stage their final meeting of the season this afternoon and First Lieutenant, who appears bound for the Aintree Grand National, is to have a prep run over hurdles in the Thurles Racecourse Hurdle where he'll face just three rivals.
The Grade One winning 10-year-old's trainer, Mouse Morris, explained: "We've decided to give him a run over hurdles to prep him for Aintree, or wherever he's going.
"He seems in great form at home. He's been hunting and he seems a happy horse at the moment. He looks like a horse for Liverpool. I think going around there might just perk him up a bit, but we'll just wait and see what happens."