Article Date: 11-April-2011
Ballabriggs and Synchronised dominate the Weights for the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National
Irish-bred Aintree hero Ballabriggs and last December's Welsh Grand National victor Synchronised dominate the weights for the 140th running of the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National on Easter Monday, 25th April.
The Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs has been allocated 11-10, 7lb more than he shouldered in Liverpool last Saturday. While Jonjo O'Neill's Chepstow victor Synchronised will take his chance under 2lb less (11-8).
This inaugural Ladbrokes sponsorship of the traditional highlight of the three-day Easter Festival has attracted an unprecedented entry of 88 horses and the Senior Irish Jumps handicapper Noel O'Brien has managed to include no less than 65 of them in the handicap proper.
O'Brien commented: "I note that none of the ten winners since Commanche Court carried 11-4 to success in 2000 has been burdened with more than 10-12 (Timbera in 2003). With so many horses already in the handicap proper, this adds to the quality of what could be a very competitive renewal."
Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and JP McManus, both of whom have multiple entries for the newly-branded Ladbrokes Irish Grand National as they seek further success in this event which they captured with Hear The Echo (2008) and Butler's Cabin in 2007 respectively. There are eight horses for Gigginstown House Stud and no less than 11 on behalf of JP McManus among the bumper entry of 88, three more than 12 months ago.
Jonjo O'Neill nominated Can't Buy Time (9-13) and Sunnyhillboy (10-6) in addition to Synchronised.
A total of 23 British-based jumpers figure among the entries with their champion trainer Paul Nicholls having opted to enter just Niche Market (11-2), successful at 33/1 two years ago in the colours of Blackrock, Co Dublin native Graham Regan.
Galant Nuit (9-13) likewise is the sole entrant for Yorkshire-based Ferdy Murphy, victorious with another 33/1 chance Granit D'Estruval in 2004, while English colleagues Alan King and Victor Dartnall may be tempted also to saddle Blazing Bailey (11-4) and Giles Cross (10-1).
Nigel Twiston-Davies could make a rare raid on the Ladbrokes Grand National with the veteran Hello Bud (10-4) which landed the 2009 Scottish National at Ayr.
Yet to get his name on the Irish Grand National roll of honour, champion trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for a mammoth 10 entries including The Midnight Club (11-3) and Arbor Supreme (10-12), first and second at Fairyhouse in the Bobbyjo Chase before failing to reach the frame at Aintree while former Grade 1 winner Barker (11-5) and luckless novice Quel Esprit (10-12) also catch the eye in his squad.
Gordon Elliott continues to enjoy a very rewarding campaign on both sides of the Irish Sea and fluent Cheltenham Festival victor Chicago Grey (11-4) as well as Beautiful Sound (9-10), third there also, could appeal to many punters who follow his runners.
Pictured below with jockey Davy Russell, Dessie Hughes said: "I'm definitely looking at Fairyhouse for both Western Charmer and Sarteano although Deal Done may wait for Punchestown. Western Charmer has a fair enough weight (10-6) and would like nice ground, but Sarteano wants it quick!"
Other notable entries include Noel Glynn's Becauseicouldntsee (10-8) which exited at the second fence in Aintree is 3lb better in at Fairyhouse while last year's Tony Martin-trained favourite Saddlers Storm, a faller when making stealthy progress inside the final mile then, might secure compensation off 9-11 now.
Commenting on the launch of the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National, Fairyhouse Acting Manager Peter Roe said: "We're very much looking forward to the 140th running of this great race which marks a new and exciting era in partnership with Ladbrokes. I'm delighted that such a leading bookmaking organisation is backing the richest National Hunt race of the Irish calendar which invariably attracts the biggest live television audience in racing here."
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