Rachael Blackmore hoping for a fifth chance at the Irish Grand National


Rachael Blackmore will look to earn her fifth chance on Easter Monday at the Boylesports Irish Grand National when she teams up with Full Time Score in Ireland’s richest jump race.

The only runner trained by Henry De Bromhead is one of 30 hopefuls who were declared on Good Friday for Fairyhouse’s €500,000 climax.

Up to 14,000 people are expected to attend the traditional Easter function which was scrapped due to the pandemic in 2020 and held behind closed doors last year.

The best Blackmore has done in four previous attempts in the race was third place on Abolitionist to Our Duke in 2017.

De Bromhead has also never won the historic race which celebrates its 150th renewal on Monday.

Blackmore and De Bromhead continued their remarkable run of recent success at the Cheltenham festival last month by combining to complete the Champion Hurdle – Gold Cup double with Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard.

They were unlucky at last weekend’s Aintree National when defending champion Minella Times went out at the ninth fence.

Blackmore will be in Cork on Easter Sunday to partner Minella Times in a third-year pursuit, but his big run target will fall to Fairyhouse for the full-time score.

The eight-year-old is one of the more inexperienced runners in the 30-man field, but he’s as low as 8-1 in some ante-post betting lists.

Blackmore will attempt to become the fourth woman to ride an Irish national winner and the first female professional.

Ann Ferris premiered in 1984 on Bentom Boy. Nina Carberry in 2011 and Katie Walsh four years later also won as amateurs.

Rivals

One of Willie Mullins’ two runners, Gallard Du Mesnil, is a 6-1 favorite with the national sponsors.

However, it was Mullins’ great rival Gordon Elliott who numerically dominated with 11 declared chances. That’s two shy of his 2018 team when he won with General Principle.

Elliott also has the second reserve general plan. He will need two to get out before the final cut on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

JP McManus has the other two reserves as well as eight who are guaranteed a spot. They include the only multi-channel competitor Time To Get Up.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary also has eight horses among the 30 as he chases a fifth Irish national victory.

By contrast, Francis Casey, who trains a handful of horses at his North Co Dublin training yard, will be looking for career-best success with Max Flamingo.

He is big in betting and Casey said: “I think he has a good chance. It’s quite local and it’s probably the biggest steeplechase in the country

“I know it’s just a handicap, but it’s the biggest in terms of price and it has a huge story.

“That would be great [to win] especially from a real small stable because I only have five horses in training.

Easter Festival action in Fairyhouse and Cork begins on Saturday and the Co Meath track was boosted by the return of Galopin Des Champs in pursuit of Sunday’s first year Novices.

The Willie Mullins-trained horse spoiled some Cheltenham success with a dramatic closing last-minute knockdown last month, but is already co-favorite for next year’s Gold Cup with A Plus Late.

Mullins’ thrilling rookie is sure to be a favorite against a handful of opponents, including Master McShee, who chased Galopin Des Champs at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Fairyhouse officials are monitoring the situation regarding the additional watering of the track.

The road is currently yielding and good to yielding in places, but up to 10mm of rain is forecast for Sunday.

That won’t be a problem for Sunday’s other freshman’s only cross-Channel raider, the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle.

Cheltenham Festival winner Love Envoi will try to follow in the footsteps of Honeysuckle who won this event in 2019.

His trainer Harry Fry succeeded in 2015 with Bitofapuzzle, although Love Send will face the power of a team of eight Willie Mullins.

Grangee made the best of Mullins’ runners when he was third behind Love Envoi at Cheltenham where Dinoblue proved a big disappointment.

She started off as a well-supported favourite, but after the race she dropped to ninth place. A change in tactics could help Dinoblue get much closer this time around.

Cheltenham Festival winner Shane Fitzgerald on 50-1 underdog Commander Of Fleet will use his £5 claim for Gigginstown Stud aboard Farclas in the National.

Before that, he takes that claim off another Gigginstown runner, Eric Bloodaxe, who is the highest weight for Saturday’s novice handicap hurdles final.

Eric Bloodaxe barely lifted a canter in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, so it will be interesting if blinders for the first time rejuvenate him to the form that saw him win impressively at Limerick at Christmas.

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