1. McLoughlin magic

again in Fairyhouse

Irish Grand Nationals are hard won these days. Long gone are the times when the likes of Jim Dreaper, Paddy Mullins and Tom Dreaper won the race often. Just ask Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, who despite their collective domination of other top races in Ireland, only have a single win between them in the Irish National. So for a small trainer in Dermot McLoughlin to win it back to back is simply remarkable. First it was Freewheelin Dylan at 150/1, then it was Lord Lariat at a more modest 40/1. The latter was excellently ridden by Paddy O’Hanlon, at just 23, a Dublin native, who still holds plenty of his 7lb claim. But the main kudos goes to McLoughlin, who probably didn’t mind winning the race in silence last year but most definitely appreciated the full reception he got this time around.

2. Corkery and Power

Master a Grade 1

“Money can’t buy the enjoyment we got out of Limerick, this is a passion for us,” were the words of Paddy Corkery when reflecting on a Grade 1 success of his Master McShee in the Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick on St Stephen’s Day.

The Master McShee story is well told now - the dairy farmer/tractor mechanic turned trainer Corkery combining with the 40-year-old comeback jockey Ian Power. Master McShee’s win at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival last season was already a major achievement, but he surpassed that in no uncertain terms this season with a win at the highest level, not least given he was Corkery’s only active horse in training at the time. In doing so, Corkery broke up a six-year Mullins-Elliott hegemony, with Power summoning a brilliant run out of the eight-year-old, getting the better of the Elliott-trained and Gigginstown-owned Farouk D’Alene.

3. Emmet breaks the trends

to land the biggest target

Emmet Mullins already had a reputation as a target trainer during a relatively short stint training but he landed the biggest target of them all at the tender age of 32 last month.

Noble Yeats broke all sorts of trends as a seven-year-old novice chaser winning the Grand National but his talented handler cared little for such statistics, and primed the son of Yeats to perfection. Remarkably the horse had only won his bumper 14 months previously and his beginners’ chase in October. Such campaigning could actually prompt a change of the norms when it comes to how trainers approach racing their horses. For Mullins, he became the second youngest trainer ever to win the Grand National, just three years older than when Elliott won it at 29 - look at how fast that man’s career has developed.

4. Post-race scenes like

no other - Porter power

It was great to have Cheltenham on last year but the Festival was a shadow of its usual self. When Flooring Porter bounded up the hill for sensational Stayers Hurdle win, surely some part of his four syndicate member owners must have thought, if only we could have been there.

Well he only went and won it again for his syndicate this year and they seemed to fairly enjoy themselves, with the sight of Danny Mullins hoisted up on the shoulders of two men and paraded around the winners enclosure unlikely to be rivalled in any future post-race celebrations at Cheltenham. But also, this you can’t reiterate enough the importance of a syndicate-owned horse prospering at the highest level - it keeps the dream alive for so many.

5. Rose blooms for Fahey

The success of the mare Ballyshannon Rose in the Grade 2 Coolmore N.H. Sires Mogul Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase at Thurles in January probably went a little under the radar but this was a significnat achievement for the trainer Paul Fahey.

A farrier by trade, from only a handful of runners down the years Fahey has enjoyed significant success, most notably through the likes of He’llberembered and Lots Of Memories. However he achieved his highest grade success yet from a most unlikely source in this mare, who was rated 87 when she won her first handicap hurdle.

She ran respectable at Punchestown on Tuesday when fourth to Capodanno in Grade 1 company and could well provide more success if connections keep her going.