It was a tale of Randox Grand National disappointment for Enjoy D’allen and connections at Aintree with the well-fancied eight-year-old an early casualty in the world’s most famous steeplechase, which was won by 50-1 shot Noble Yeats.
The son of Network was picked up by JP McManus prior to the race in a bid to boost the leading owner’s chances of a third Grand National success, but Enjoy D’allen’s challenge only lasted as far as the first fence, with rider Conor Orr ejected from the saddle.
However, trainer Ciaran Murphy reports the horse to be none the worse for his trip to Merseyside and although it ultimately proved a fruitless trip, could look to quickly pick up some compensation in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, a race in which he was third 12 months ago and has been cut to 16-1 from 25-1 by Ladbrokes.
“We’re obviously disappointed, we didn’t envisage that happening,” Murphy said of the weekend.
“But these things happen in racing and we’re lucky with the owners we have they took it very well and we just have to move on.
“I have to speak to connections and see how they feel about it and, ultimately, they will make the call, but the horse seems fine, he’s home and fresh and well and it’s definitely an option.
“He’s travelled over (to Aintree) and been there for three or four days and there’s all that to consider too, but once he’s in good spirits with himself over the next few days we have option to go there and he’s tried and tested in the race.
“We had him ready for Aintree, we’ll make no secret of that, but we have to regroup now and try to find our feet again and the next option. Once the horse and ground are OK, there is every chance he takes his chance.”
Looking back on Enjoy D’allen’s Aintree experience, the handler is simply putting the first-fence mishap down to the rub of the green not going in their favour.
“He jumped the fence fine, but he might have just caught his front foot with his back one and he stumbled.
“He just shot the jockey out of the saddle, it was just one of those things. Like he jumped the fence perfect, there’s no real explaining it, it just happens,” said Murphy.
A return to Aintree could be on the cards in 2023 if Murphy gets his way, with the handler convinced the horse has all the attributes to tackle the four-and-a-quarter-mile marathon, as well as deserving the opportunity to correct the wrong of his first attempt.
“I think that would have to be the plan. The new owners gave me a free hand to go to Aintree this time and they’re going to have an input now and it’ll be down to them.
“But I think he’ll be a lovely horse to go back to Aintree with next year and if that was possible, I think it would be a great race to aim him at for the season.
“He deserves another opportunity, there’s nothing much to say about this year apart from it was bad luck, but we just have to put that behind us and I know we have to wait a year, but hopefully we can get back there and get a bit further next time,” said the trainer.