The Irish challenge in the Grand National has always been strong with five winners since the turn of the century, but it’s seven years since their last success, courtesy of Silver Birch in 2007. Easyodds’ Irish correspondent Eamon Hanlon gives you his view of this year’s challenge from the Emerald Isle below.
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE@33/1
There will now be a maximum of 10 runners in the 2014 Crabbies Grand National field, a nice mix of unexposed young chasers, experienced horses that look well handicappered and three or four just along for the ride!
Martin Brassil knows what it takes to win this magnificent race and I know he is excited by the chances of his hugely progressive eight-year-old DOUBLE SEVEN. The key to this son of Milan is a sound surface, so Brassil will be hoping that the weather takes a turn for the better. Purely from a handicapping point of view I think that Phil Smith has taken a real chance with him from a mark of only 148, 10lbs higher than his Munster National win, but a rating only three pounds higher than this strong stayer ran to in a conditions race last time out. But if you are thinking of having a wager on him it is worth re-iterating he is best on good ground.
Colbert Station is the enigma horse as he has bundles of ability and was still in a nice rhythm last year before totally missing out The Chair and depositing Tony McCoy unceremoniously on the Liverpool turf.
His handicap mark has been preserved since a cracking third under a huge burden in the Troytown and there can be no excuses this time around as he is arguably at the peak of his powers. However, his one weakness is that he tends to lose concentration during a race as he did last year when unseating - but a clear run would see him go close.
Big Shu is a progressive cross country horse and he will certainly stay, but even from a fair mark I am not sure he is good enough. With Mossey Joe having opted for the Fox Hunters, the other representative I am interested in has to be PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE. The Willie Mullins’ runner has been given a real chance by the handicapper here having been allotted a rating of 147, eight pounds lower than his pitch at the start of the season.
Former Irish National hero Lion Na Bernai is relatively lightly raced for a horse of his age, but it is hard to see him winning althoguha top six place could beckon
It is also a shame that the Topham third from last year, Last Time d'Albain could take in the same race again. True, he handled the fences really well that day, but he was ultimately outpaced from the last fence and looked that day as though this stamina trip would suit. If connections have a late change of mind then I think he could very well hit the frame.