3m5f BoyleSports Irish Grand National Chase (Extended Handicap Chase) (Grade A) (5yo+)
It’s hard to think that the Irish Grand National was last staged in April 2019. A race that has tended to be dominated by classy novices in recent years, this season’s renewal looks no different with plenty of unexposed types to choose from.
Perhaps nobody has the strongest credentials as Latest Exhibition, who was kept at home instead of going to Cheltenham in March. That could prove to be a shrewd move for the Paul Nolan yard having finished behind Monkfish on several occasions during his career.
Latest Exhibition does have to lumber top-weight which only one horse has managed to do in recent years. And I’m not sure his jumping is the slickest although there is no question of his qualities and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make his presence felt.
Not many winners have won off higher than 10st 13lbs and of those towards the bottom-of-the-weights, one that makes great appeal is RUN WILD FRED, who carries 10st 11lbs. He looks to be Gigginstown’s first string with Jack Kennedy in the saddle and has the right sort of profile for this having contested a number of key trials.
Run Wild Fred is yet to win over fences but has looked a progressive staying chaser in the making on his last two starts and could be well-handicapped. He put in a strong run in the Thyestes back in January which has often been a good pointer to this. He was only put up 4lbs for that run to a mark of 140, still 4lbs lower than his hurdles mark, and Run Wild Fred looks a much better chaser than hurdler. The ground shouldn’t be a huge concern as he has a previous course win on good ground to aid his claims.
There are plenty of other novice angles into the race with Brace Yourself, Coko Beach and Espanito Bello all making the shortlist.
However, there is one major class angle into this race in the shape of ESCARIA TEN, who on just his fourth chase start put in a fantastic performance to finish third in the National Hunt Chase to Galvin and Next Destination last month.
Both rivals raced off level-weights and were rated higher than Escaria Ten going into Cheltenham yet he was the leader after the last before they just sprinted ahead of the Denise Foster runner to get the better of him over 3m 6f. He was by no means outstayed and that form could prove to be very strong in time. Escaria Ten has been progressive over fences and he could come on further with the application of cheekpieces.
There is a slight possibility that this run may come a little too soon three weeks after Cheltenham. But we have seen winners come from that race before and this will just be Escaria Ten’s second start of the calendar year so he should still be fit and fresh.
Escaria Ten is an immaculate jumper and that should see him contesting the finish. He looks too big a price at 16/1 with obvious class and stamina in abundance.
1pt each-way Run Wild Fred @10/1, 17:00 Fairyhouse, Monday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds)
1pt each-way Escaria Ten @16/1, 17:00 Fairyhouse, Monday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds)