Ciaran Murphy is hoping fortune favours Enjoy D’allen when he looks to bounce back from an early Aintree fall in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday.
The eight-year-old unseated Conor Orr at the first fence in the Randox Grand National, a race he went into off the back of a solid third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and a decent hurdles warm up.
The gelding was a 20-1 shot for Aintree and became an intriguing prospect for racing fans as he was purchased by JP McManus, one of the sport’s most high-profile owners, in March.
“It was horrendous bad luck at Aintree – we just couldn’t believe it had happened,” said Murphy.
“He jumped the fence perfectly, but he caught his front foot with his hind toe and just shot Connor (Orr) out of the saddle. It was just a one in a million thing and was unfortunate it happened that day.
“We just have to draw a line under it.”
Enjoy D’allen kept on well to be a four-and-a-half-length third to shock winner Freewheelin Dylan in the Irish National last year and Murphy hopes he is in similar form, despite carrying 6lb more this time.
“He will go there fresh. If he can produce that level again, we would love to think we might be in the shake-up,” added Murphy.
Though his Aintree faux pas was frustrating, connections will seemingly have that target in mind next season.
“I would love to think we can go to Aintree with him next year, and have a good go,” said Murphy.
“It will be down to Frank (Berry, racing manager) and JP, but he will be a lovely horse for the Paddy Power next year and the National. He is a staying chaser.
“He had a very light campaign on purpose this year and hopefully his exertions at Aintree haven’t taken too much out of him. If they haven’t, we hope he will go there and run a nice race and the rest is a bonus.”
Enjoy D’allen is one of eight for McManus in the race, with School Boy Hours and Time To Get Up also towards the head of the betting.
Matthew Smith saddles Ronald Pump, who was beaten half a length by Diol Ker, who reopposes, in the Leinster National at Naas last time.
Runner-up to Lisnagar Oscar in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2020, he has had just four runs over fences and will be ridden by 7lb claimer Liam McKenna.
Smith said: “We are looking forward to it. We never had any expectations the last day. It was a mixture of delight and frustration in that he didn’t manage to hold on, but we were delighted with the run.
“He seems in good form and fingers crossed for a clear run around and a good run.
“Liam gave him a good ride the last day and he gets on well with him.
“He claims 7lb as well which will be a help. If he gets a clear round and jumps cleanly, hopefully that 7lb will make a difference.
“He is not ground dependent. He has won on good ground and has won at the Easter meeting before at the track. He has won three times around Fairyhouse, including his beginners’ chase, and he likes the track.
“Like all of them, he will need a bit of luck.”
Gordon Elliott is responsible for no fewer than 11 of the runners, with Navan Troytown Handicap Chase runner-up Farclas heading his powerful team.
Farclas will be ridden by 5lb claimer Shane Fitzgerald, with Davy Russell on Mount Ida, who unseated at the first at Aintree, while Jack Kennedy teams up with Frontal Assault – a horse yet to win over fences.
Elliott enjoyed a winner at Fairyhouse on Sunday and outlined his thoughts on his leading hopes.
He said: “Fakir D’alene is in good form and ran very well in Cheltenham. Harry (Swan) will take a valuable 7lb off him. I think he can run well.
“The more rain that falls the better for Frontal Assault. I fancied him at Cheltenham and he made a mistake at the wrong time. He’s in good form as well and will wear blinkers for the first time over fences.
“Floueur has an engine but is a bit novicey jumping. If he jumps, he’ll have a chance.
“Death Duty won a Grand National Trial in Punchestown but he ran in the English National last week and obviously it’s a worry after only running last week.
“Mount Ida only got to the first at Aintree and if she gets into it after the first mile, she’ll run well.
“Farclas hasn’t had the greatest preparation. We missed a bit of work with him about 10 days ago but he’s in good form at home. He’ll like nice ground.
“Run Wild Fred was second in it last year and is in good form.
“We’ll see what happens with the weather and what the ground is going to be like in the morning.”
Gaillard Du Mesnil heads the market for Willie Mullins, who also fields Franco De Port, while Dermot McLoughlin tries to follow up on last year’s shock 150-1 success with Freewheelin Dylan as he fields another outsider in Lord Lariat.