Irish Grand National 2016: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

The Irish Grand National takes place at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday
The Irish Grand National takes place at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday

Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to the 2016 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse...


"A return to this longer trip will suit and this unexposed mare looks to hold leading form claims..."

Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott) Winner of the 2015 National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and followed up with an impressive victory in this year's Kim Muir. Trained to peak for that race and, with a 12 lb penalty to shoulder here, this assignment might just come a bit soon.

Mala Beach (Gordon Elliott) Runner-up in Thyestes at Gowran Park in January, he looked the most likely winner when falling two out in a Fairyhouse Grade 2 last time. Joint top-rated with Timeform, he will need another career-best here, but remains open to more improvement as a chaser and is shortlisted.

My Murphy (Liam Burke) Seventh in this race last year and won Thyestes Chase when last seen in January. Been kept fresh for this race and, although a 9 lb hike in the weights makes life tougher, he meets runner-up Mala Beach on just 1 lb worse terms here and entitled to respect.

Living Next Door (Tony Martin) Won Paddy Power in December 2014, but below form in just two subsequent starts over hurdles this season. This likely to have been his target, but not difficult to look elsewhere.

Sub Lieutenant (Sandra Hughes) Useful novice put up a career-best when winning a Grade 3 at Naas last time. However, that breakthrough over fences came at 2½ miles and something to prove over this longer trip.

Thunder And Roses (Sandra Hughes) Won this race as a novice last year, but disappointing in four starts this season. Still 9 lb higher than for that win and current form leaves him with plenty to find if he is to repeat last year's heroics.

Bonny Kate (Noel Meade) Won Grade 2 novice for mares at Limerick last time, but better form previously when taking Punchestown handicap over 3½ miles in January. Return to longer trip will suit and this unexposed mare looks to hold leading form claims (joint top-rated with Timeform).

Rogue Angel (Mouse Morris) Won competitive handicaps at Galway and Listowel last year and matched that form in defeat at Leopardstown last month. 4 lb higher than for latest win and looks in the handicapper's grip at present.

Russe Blanc (Kerry Lee) Won Classic Chase on heavy ground at Warwick in January, but races off a 10 lb higher mark here and could be tapped for a bit of toe in these better conditions.

Venitien de Mai (Jim Dreaper) Improving novice won Leinster National at Naas earlier this month and remains unexposed as a chaser after just four starts. This longer trip should be within his range and a 10 lb rise for that recent win might not be enough to prevent him reaching the frame.

Another Hero (Jonjo O'Neill) Winner of both his starts over fences, but showed signs of immaturity when idling in the closing stages at Ludlow last time. Yard has a fine record in this race (won two of the last nine runnings) and, provided he is streetwise enough for a race like this, he can make his presence felt here.

Baie des Iles (Ross O'Sullivan) Fairly useful in France and made a winning debut over fences in Ireland. Not disgraced in two subsequent starts and his second behind Bonny Kate at Punchestown in January was a creditable effort. Shortlisted with a return to this longer trip likely to suit.

Bless The Wings (Gordon Elliott) Won over this C&D in November and produced his best effort for this yard when third in the Cross Country at Cheltenham. Consistent performer, but vulnerable to a less exposed type.

Cantlow (Enda Bolger) Eighth in this race in 2014 and sixth last year, he was a good second over banks on his debut for this yard in January. Disappointing at Cheltenham though and unlikely to make it third-time lucky in this race.

Folsom Blue (Mouse Morris) Returned after a year off to finish a creditable third in the Paddy Power on debut for this yard, but has failed to back that up on two subsequent starts. Well-beaten behind Bonny Kate last time and looks up against it here.

Killer Crow (Gordon Elliott) Improving novice was a good second behind Empire Of Dirt at Leopardstown last time and the winner gave that form a boost at Cheltenham. However, doubtful stayer was only fifth behind Bless The Wings over C&D in November and others preferred.

Captain Von Trappe (Gordon Elliott) Record of one win from eight starts over fences fails to excite and flattered by second in a weak Punchestown Grade 2. Below par last time and balance of form makes him impossible to fancy.

Kilford (Leonard Whitmore) Defied an 11 lb hike in the weights to score at Navan two weeks ago and looks to have improved for a test of stamina. Another 10 lb penalty to contend with here, but front runner remains with potential if harnessing his energy in the early stages.

Raz de Maree (Gavin Cromwell) Former Munster and Cork National winner shaped okay on his return from 11 months off the track for a new yard recently, but getting on now and best days look to be behind him.

Unic de Bersy (Gordon Elliott) Made a promising start over fences, but failed to complete on his last two starts and appeared to show signs of temperament when pulled-up in the Thyestes. A faller when last seen over hurdles, he has questions to answer at present and is readily passed over.

Jarob (Andrew Lynch) Mixed hurdles and fences with a fair amount of success this season, but only seventh on his return from a break at Leopardstown recently. Entitled to strip fitter here and has presumably been saved for a return to better ground conditions, but this demands a huge career-best.

Portrait King (Patrick Griffin) Won Eider Chase at Newcastle in 2012 and was third when trying to regain his crown there last month. Dropped to a rating only 3 lb higher than his last winning mark, but useful veteran might have to give way to younger legs here.

Ballyadam Approach (Terence O'Brien) Won a competitive handicap at the Punchestown Festival last spring, but disappointing in two starts this season. There were plausible excuses for those efforts, but he steps up markedly in trip here and preference is for those with proven stamina.

Barely Legal (Karl Thornton) Produced a career-best when winning at Leopardstown in January and his strong finishing effort suggested he could yet stay further. However, this test is pushing that theory to the extreme and others hold stronger claims on form.

Wrath Of Titans (Sandra Hughes) Made a winning debut over fences at this course, but limitations exposed in two subsequent starts in Graded company. Not disgraced on his handicap debut last time, but this much tougher.

Tulsa Jack (Noel Meade) Produced a career-best on his first start over 3½ at Cork and was given a break after a disappointing effort next time. Returned with a below par effort at Downpatrick, but bound to have needed that first run for four months and not a forlorn hope if reproducing the form of his Cork victory.

Definite Ruby (Gordon Elliott) Just one win from 16 starts over fences and didn't appear to be crying out for this longer trip when well-beaten at Downpatrick last time. Impossible to fancy in this company.

Futuramic (Andrew Lynch) Remains a maiden after eight starts over fences. Best effort coming when second behind Venitien de Mai at Down Royal last month and similar form when third over 3½ miles at Downpatrick recently. Saw out the longer trip well there and could surprise a few off his light weight.

Riverside City (Gordon Elliott) Won Troytown Chase at Navan in November and followed that up with a better effort on the figures when sixth in the Paddy Power next time. Gone backwards in three subsequent starts though and current form leaves him with plenty to find.


Timeform's Irish Grand National 1-2-3

1. Bonny Kate (IRE)
2. Venitien de Mai (FR)
3. Another Hero (IRE)


Timeform Analyst's Verdict:

Bonny Kate is unexposed both over staying trips and in handicaps and looks capable of better still, so could be the way to go in the latest renewal of Ireland's premier handicap chase. Venitien de Mai and Another Hero are other improvers to note, as is at a bigger price, Kilford.


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