Irish Grand National (Fairyhouse Easter Festival)

A little over a week after One For Arthur won the Grand National at Aintree, it’s time for the Irish equivalent of the race at Fairyhouse. The Irish Grand National is not only the feature race of the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse, it’s one of the biggest races on the Irish racing calendar.

Irish Grand National (Fairyhouse) Preview & Betting Tips – Monday 17th April 2017

With thousands of fans and a prize fund of €500,000, a trip of three miles, five furlongs and 24 fences to be jumped, you can be sure of plenty of drama to end the long Easter weekend.

Race Analysis

One For Arthur’s win last week extended the recent trend of younger horses triumphing in the Grand National. That moves the Aintree spectacular more in line with the Irish Grand National where younger horses have had the edge over their more experienced rivals for a long time. Generally, you want to be focussing on horses in the six to eight bracket although and only two 10 year olds have won in the last decade.

The ground at Fairyhouse will make a big difference to individual horses’ chances. If it continues to firm up then the winner will have to show a significant turn of pace but, as you’d expect for such a long race, the main things to consider are stamina and jumping ability.

This is a shorter race than at Aintree but it’s no less testing so horses must have shown a previous ability to compete over a long trip and eight of the last 10 winners had previously won over a race of three miles or more. In terms of jumping ability, you’d be taking a risk backing any horse who has fallen more than twice. Finally, the testing nature of the race means that horses carrying more than 10 stone, eight pounds will struggle.

Betting Tips

Given the challenging nature of the race, it’s a little strange to see such a clear favourite in the form of Our Duke. The seven-year-old does fit many of the trends but he’s surely carrying too much weight at 10st 13lb and this is not a race for favourites as only one of them has won this century. The question is therefore, if not Our Duke, then who?

Mall Dini made a name for himself as a very good long distance hurdler having won the 2016 Pertemps Network Final. The seven-year-old is as yet winless since making the step up to bigger obstacles but he’s certainly come very close to breaking his duck. Patrick Kelly knows exactly what it takes to prepare a horse for the Irish Grand National and he clearly sees something in Mall Dini who may be about to run the race of his life at 10/1 with Coral.

For an each way bet, the one worth risking a bet on is Road To Respect. The six-year-old has shown some promising form heading to the Cheltenham Festival but he was not exactly well fancied in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap going off at 16/1. However, he jumped well and had plenty left in the tank to win albeit at a much shorter distance than he’ll face on Monday. If he gets the trip, he’ll have a very good chance at 20/1 with Bet365.

Ryanair Gold Cup (Fairyhouse) Preview & Betting Tips – Sunday 16th April 2017

The Ryanair Gold Cup once again features several strong novice chasers, including the strong favourite, Yorkhill. Former winners have sometimes gone onto enjoy successful chase careers, none more so than Arkle who won this race in 1963.

The two and a half mile event is one of the big occasions during a very popular three day Easter Festival at Fairyhouse that runs between Sunday and Tuesday. It boasts Grade 1 status and there is a prize purse of €100,000 up for grabs.

Race Analysis

Form is always a good thing to have coming into any race and it's something which seems to be required here for horses hoping to win the Grade 1 affair. Nine of the last 10 Ryanair Gold Cup winners won one or both of their previous two completed starts coming into the race.

Typically this race has featured horses who have dodged Cheltenham but there has been 22 exceptions to this since 2006. Their record isn't a great one though, with just one win and four place finishes between them. Not great news for Yorkhill, especially as the gap between the two festivals is shorter than it has previously been.

More bad news for Yorkhill comes due to the fact that the favourites have a terrible record here. On just one of the last 10 renewals has the market leader triumphed, giving a level stakes loss of 7.90.

Betting Tips

Willie Mullins seems to be making a real effort to catch up to Gordon Elliot's lead in the trainers' championship and the inclusion of Yorkhill (1/2 with Betfair) is the biggest sign of this. Typically Cheltenham Festival winners would enjoy a nice break until the start of the next season but Yorkhill won’t enjoy such a luxury this time.

There's no doubting he's a class horse with a hugely impressive 90% win rate (100% over fences) to back this up but the record of horses who feature here after a Cheltenham visit is a real concern. With a longer break, he'd be worth backing but as he struggled when making an appearance last April in Ireland in his seasonal farewell, we may see a repeat disappointing performance.

It could be that Gordon Elliot is able to extend his lead at the top of the trainers' championship after this race as he has two notable entries here, A Toi Phil (9/1 with Ladbrokes) and Ball D'Arc (7/1 with Coral). For the latter, it would be fair to think he also would benefit for a longer rest coming into the race. The six-year-old has run 11 times over fences this season including at Fairyhouse two weeks ago. Given that none of the previous 10 winners of this race had more than five chase starts, he's perhaps one to avoid.

Concerns also surround A Toi Phil who has lacked any real consistency and only seems able to perform when he’s been one of the shortest priced options. With a strong field unlikely to spur him on, this may not be Elliot’s race. Instead, back Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly (7/1 with BetVictor) for this race.

The seven year old didn’t travel well when at Kempton on Boxing Day but back on Irish soil a competitive showing should be expected. He wasn’t too far away from a course and distance win in December and with conditions set to be just right here, the Martin runner is worthy of backing for the win.