Dermot McLoughlin eyes a place on elite roll of honour
Trainer Dermot McLoughlin is hoping that old boy Vics Canvas can become the first 12-year-old since Brown Lad won his third Irish National in 1978 to win the Fairyhouse feature and in doing so, add his name to a roll of honour that already features his father, Liam.
McLoughlin snr won the race back in 1962 on the Tom Dreaper trained Kerfora and his son Dermot, who trains just up the road from the racecourse, knows all about the history of the BoyleSports Irish Grand National and now he's hoping to be a part of that.
Despite being a 12-year-old, Vics Canvas is relatively lightly raced and after his impressive Cork National triumph goes into the race with every chance.
"He seems in good form and we are looking forward to it," said the Meath trainer.
"Initially, we'd have liked to have got him a couple of more runs in handicaps for the experience and I know it's hard to believe you'd be looking for more runs with a 12-year-old but he's a horse that has had a few problems."
Owned by the Bodeen Bandits Syndicate which features At The Races presenter Gary O'Brien, Vics Canvas was last seen when finishing a very respectable third to Living Next Door and Foxrock in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown over Christmas and certainly comes into the race a fresh horse.
McLoughlin explained: "He didn't really get going until he was seven because he was off for a year and a half with a leg injury and then had problems with ulcers so he was slow getting going but luckily enough he is a very easy horse to train and doesn't need much galloping and we can go from race to race as a fresh horse."
Sponsors BoyleSports described Vics Canvas as one of the biggest losers in their antepost book after support saw him cut from 20/1 into 12/1 and McLoughlin is just looking forward to the race itself.
"My father won the race in 1962 for Tom Dreaper and we're only 10-minutes up the road so I was going there for years with my father as a child. Hopefully we can get the horse there in one piece and see what happens after that - it's a big handicap and it's the same for everyone after that."
McLoughlin appreciates the history of the Dreaper family in the race and is wary of Jim Dreaper's challenge this year.
"Obviously Jim is on a roll at the moment and his horses are flying but most of them are there with their chances and whatever is best handicapped on the day or gets a bit of luck in running will surely go close and hopefully that is ours!"
The ground at Fairyhouse is described as soft to heavy and that should prove ideal for the son of Old Vic.
"We won't worry about the ground unless it gets too tacky. He's won on soft ground, he's won on good ground, but preferably he'd like a bit of soft ground as it was tacky in Leopardstown and Conor (Maxwell) just said he didn't like it at all."
Conor Maxwell will again be on board and McLoughlin is hoping he can enhance his good record with the horse.
"Conor won on him over hurdles and fences and knows him well now so hopefully all will go well."
irish grand national