Mullins has five-strong team going for Irish National honours

Willie Mullins has five runners as he attempts to win the BoyleSports Grand National at Fairyhouse for just a second time after Burrows Saint in 2019.

Mullins ended his hoodoo in style when saddling the first three home when the race was last run as it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year.

He will be hoping for a similar result again in the Easter Monday feature with the Closutton handler represented by Brahma Bull, Salsaretta, Agusta Gold, Dragon D’Estruval and Robin De Carlow, while Burrows Saint is a leading fancy for the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

His assistant David Casey gave the latest on the stable’s quintet.

“The better ground will help Brahma Bull. He was pulled up in the Thyestes on heavy ground, but he will be better on the drier ground,” he said.

Willie Mullins has five runners in the Irish Grand National
Willie Mullins has five runners in the Irish Grand National (Niall Carson/PA)

“Salsaretta ran well in Cheltenham. Hopefully that won’t have too much of an effect on her. It was a tough race, but the step up in trip with suit.

“Agusta Gold is new to the yard so we are still learning about her. She has some decent form in the book. The trip won’t be an issue. She goes there with a chance.

“Dragon D’Estruval has been hunter chasing. The trip will suit and hopefully he can be competitive.

“Robin De Carlow hasn’t run for a long time, but has some very good form in the book. She might need the race after such a long break, but she has been working and schooling well so hopefully she can run a good race.”

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Peter Fahey is hoping conditions are not too quick for The Big Dog, who is due to line up after claiming a game success in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February.

Top amateur Jamie Codd was in the saddle that day and the pair will maintain their association at Fairyhouse, as long as conditions will suit.

Jamie Codd rides The Big Dog for trainer Peter Fahey
Jamie Codd rides The Big Dog for trainer Peter Fahey (Niall Carson/PA)

Fahey said: “He’s in good nick. It’s a very competitive race, but hopefully the ground isn’t too quick. We’re going to walk the track and see how things are.

“He’s in very good form and it’s great the weights went up so Jamie is more comfortable doing the weight on him.

“Fingers crossed he can put in a big run for the owners.”

Joseph O’Brien is surprised Sempo is prominent in the betting as he is short on experience.

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Sempo is prominent in the betting for the Irish Grand National
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Sempo is prominent in the betting for the Irish Grand National (PA)

“In my opinion people might be getting a little carried away as he’s completed three of his five chase runs and now he jumps into an Irish National. I think it’s a bigger ask than what is being said.” he told Betfair.

“It’s a different ball game, he was relatively lightly-raced over hurdles as well. Experience-wise I think it’s a big ask, but there’s no doubt he’s a talented horse and he’s proved that in the past.”

O’Brien expects his other runner, Home By The Lee, to put up a good show.

“We’re looking forward to Home By The Lee as well, who has a little bit more experience but is still a novice,” he added.

“He wears a hood in his training as he can be a handful, but he stays very well.”

Ciaran Murphy has always felt Enjoy D’Allen might develop into an Irish National contender.

“The first time we ran him, we thought he had the profile for a race like this if he kept progressing and he did,” said the Mullingar handler.

“We’ve had a dream run with him up to his last prep run which was three weeks to the day of the National, which is absolutely perfect.

“He does tick the boxes. I’m not saying he’s going to go and win, but the last day in Naas if he hadn’t fluffed his lines at the last, he galloped on through the line and we know he wants a little further than three miles.”

Trainer Noel Meade saddles Brace Yourself and Eurobot in the Irish Grand National
Trainer Noel Meade saddles Brace Yourself and Eurobot in the Irish Grand National (Nial Carson/PA)

Noel Meade revealed he has had this race in kind for Brace Yourself for some time.

“We’re happy he got in. It has been his target for a while. He had a good run over the trip at the end of last year,” he said.

“We possibly could have run him again, but he had a setback and he’s come out of it well. We’re very happy with his progress and very happy with the work he’s done, so we’re expecting a good run.

“Eurobot also got in and I think he’ll like the better ground.”

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