Just over a week on from the Grand National at Aintree, Fairyhouse stages the Irish equivalent.
Run over an extended three miles and five furlongs, the contest is the highlight of Fairyhouse's Easter Festival meeting. The last horse to do the English-Irish Grand National double was Numbersixvalverde.
Other previous winners include Shuthefrontdoor, Thunders And Roses and last year Rogue Angel. This year's renewal looks to have attracted a decent field looking at the betting. Here are my two ante-post selections...
Our Duke 7/1 Each Way
Jessica Harrington's charge has been well backed this week from 10/1. He bids to continue Harrington's superb run of form, which included three success at the Cheltenham Festival, which culminated with a success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup courtesy of Sizing John.
Our Duke was a promising hurdler who won on his debut over timber at Leopardstown in January 2016, whilst he also finished third in a Grade Two event at Fairyhouse in March of the same year. However, chasing has been the making of the seven-year-old son of Oscar who has two wins from three starts over fences.
On his second start over the larger obstacles at Leopardstown in December, the gelding was an impressive winner of the G1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase, beating subsequent Grade One scorer Coney Island by half-a-length. Also behind him that day were Disko and A Toi Phil, highlighting the class of the race.
That was over three miles and the progressive gelding just found an extended two and a half-miles in the G1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown last time too short a trip. He stayed on best of the rest to finish second but he could not reach long-time leader Disko.
The Irish Grand National should suit my lad down to the ground. This marathon trip will highlight his stamina laden qualities and should also show his economical jumping qualities. I fancy him strongly for this race as I think in a year's time, he could be a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
If he jumps well, he should get the trip and Our Duke looks set to continue Harrington and jockey Robbie Power's superb run of form.
Fletchers Flyer 10/1 Each Way.
Lightly campaigned by trainer Harry Fry, the nine-year-old's owner likes targeting these big Irish races and he would hold a good chance on his form thus far. An impressive winner over three miles and six furlongs at Punchestown in April 2016, a reproduction of that effort would put him bang there and he has since run with credit at Ascot in defeat on two occasions.
That included a
creditable third-placed finish in the G2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase and he looks the sort of horse who
really needs a stamina test. This race should suit him perfectly and he is of
strong interest for each way purposes.
Words By: Danny Archer