The Irish Grand National precedes the more prestigious English equivalent by a fortnight this year, but looks a very competitive renewal in its own right and has a history of throwing up shock results with seven of the last ten winners having been sent off at an SP of 20/1 or bigger.
Plenty of hope for us value punters, then, although with plenty of unexposed types in the lineup I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this year’s renewal is won by a horse situated towards the head of the market. Either way, there’s a field of 29 to get through, so let’s get stuck in.
Irish Grand National Trends
I’ve studied the last 10 renewals of the Irish Grand National and have identified the following trends to help us narrow down the field.
- 10/10 winners ere officially rated 125-142
- 10/10 came from outside the top 4 in the weights
- 10/10 had contested a £17K+ Chase
- 10/10 had 12-28 Career Runs
- 10/10 had 4-12 Chase Runs
- 10/10 had 1-4 Chase Wins
- 10/10 had a maximum of 7 Handicap Chase runs
- 9/10 had won no more than 2 Handicap Chases
- 9/10 had won over 3m+
- 9/10 were Irish-bred
- 9/10 were aged 7-10
- 9/10 had raced within the past 18-50 days
- 9/10 had raced 1-2 times in the past 3 months
- 9/10 came from outside the top 5 in the market
- 8/10 finished in the top 3 on 1 of their last 3 runs
- 8/10 had finished in the top 2 in a £20K+ Chase
- 8/10 ran over 3m+ last time out
- 8/10 ran in a Class 1 or 2 last time out
- 8/10 ran over fences last time out
- 7/10 were sent off at an SP of 20/1 or bigger
If you enjoy the challenge of finding your own bets these statistical pointers will help you to determine which runners have the best profile for the race.
Irish Grand National Dosage
Dosage can be used to determine a horse’s optimal trip. It is calculated by assigning ratings to a horse based upon the location of certain influential sires, also known as Chefs-de-Race, in the horse’s four-generation pedigree.
- 9/10 winners had 8 or more points in their Dosage Profile
- 9/10 had a CD of between -1.00 and 0.50 (mean -0.05)
- 8/10 had a DI of between 0.00 and 1.67 (mean 1.15)
A horse’s Dosage Profile can be researched for free at PedigreeQuery.com.
Irish Grand National Analysis
This is a race in which lightly-raced types have a good record and it’s easy to see why punters have latched onto improving novices Bonny Kate and Venitien De Mai.
Both have strong profiles, especially the latter, who is really starting to come into his own over fences having jumped and galloped his rivals into submission last time. Although he was receiving almost two stone from the runner-up, it was hard not to be impressed by the manner of that victory and given how strong he was in the finish there I think this longer trip will suit.
I must admit I do have my doubts about Bonny Kate who I feel is young enough for a race of this nature and is likely to find making all against this field much tougher than her latest assignment.
That win against her own sex also came just fifteen days ago and, although she didn’t exactly have a hard race that day, one does wonder whether she has had enough time to recover from those exploits given that landing this €152,000 prize will require a career best by quite some way.
Of course, it could just be that she is a very good mare and perhaps I am nit-picking here reading, but at the prices I am happy to take my chances and look elsewhere for some value.
The obvious place to start is with the Thyestes form, a race in which My Murphy was ridden well to the fore, as is his want, and put up a gutsy performance to defeat the younger and progressive Mala Beach, who is a full brother to favourite Bonny Kate.
Robbie Power gets on well with the ten-year-old son of Presenting, who is in the form of his life at present and clearly relishes a stiff test of stamina.
On revised terms, however, it would be no surprise to see Mala Beach reverse the placings. Gordon Elliott’s charge would have won a Grade 2 contest next time had he not fallen and, although his jumping can be a bit sketchy, I think slightly better ground combined with the fact they’ll be going half a stride slower over this extra half a mile will help him in that department.
With an error-free round, and assuming he’s none the worse for that fall, I think Mala Beach looks primed to run a big race.
Last year’s winner Thunder And Roses is considered given that he has been here, done it and got the t-shirt, but he has looked out of sorts since and his trainer now resorts to first-time blinkers presumably hoping they’ll sharpen him up, unless he is purely in here as a pacemaker for stablemate Wrath Of Titans.
On the face of it, it’s hard to see Baie Des Iles reversing form with Bonny Kate based on her six length defeat at the hands of that rival in January, but let’s not forget that was only her second start over Irish fences and as a five-year-old she remains open to any amount of improvement.
Katie Walsh has deserted last year’s victor to partner the grey and despite her inexperience I think she represents a shade of value on slightly better terms and at a much bigger price than her Punchestown conqueror.
Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand in this race and the other one of his I like the look of is Killer Crow, who has been off the track since finishing second to subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Empire Of Dirt in a hot handicap in January and looks to me as if he’s been campaigned with this race in mind.
He has the speed for shorter but his pedigree suggests he should improve for this longer trip, and the one thing that suggests to me this may have been his target for a while is the fact that he was tried over course and distance back in November, when I thought he was given a very quiet ride by Bryan Cooper.
Not only that, but he looks astonishingly well-handicapped, too, given how well that Leopardstown form has worked out. The winner, to whom he was conceding weight, is now rated 148 and the pair were chased home by a former Grand National third and Irish Gold Cup third, who landed a Grade 3 yesterday.
Using Proform to analyse all Class 1 and 2 3m4f-3m6f handicap chases contested in March and April since 2010, I also uncovered an interesting breeding angle which suggests that Presenting’s progeny excel over marathon trips like this. In fact, his offspring are 4-26 in such events, boasting an impressive win and place strike-rate of 23% and a level stakes profit of 85.77 to Betfair SP.
Of the remainder, I thought Ballyadam Approach looked far too big at 50s. My research suggests that age is no bad thing over marathon trips and although he won over much shorter at last year’s Punchestown Festival, his pedigree offers plenty of hope that he will stay.
His trainer said after he won his maiden hurdle in May 2012 that he was really a three-mile chaser in the making and this will be the first time he’s raced over such a trip. I think he can improve for it and if that’s the case a mark of 129 could underestimate him.
Irish Grand National Tips
Killer Crow — 1pt win @ 12/1 (General)
Venitien De Mai — 1pt win @ 9/1 (General)
Ballyadam Approach — 0.5pt win @ 50/1 (General)