The contrarian word on the Irish Grand National....

Last Updated: 01.04.2018

Sunday, 1st April 2018

The contrarian word on the Irish Grand National….

With 13 of the 30 declared runners coming out of Gordon Elliot’s yard, it will be a brave or foolhardy man who bets against him winning tomorrow afternoon’s Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse (5.00)....

Elliott would no doubt like to add an Irish Grand National to the already-impressive list of prizes he has won. And his shotgun blast of entries tomorrow is half-designed to fill that blank....

His other priority is to secure the Irish Trainers Championship and if one of his runners can land the 270,000 euros on offer for being first past the post tomorrow – with perhaps a little place money to boot – he will go a long way toward meeting that end....

For many punters, tomorrow’s Irish Grand National will be all about figuring out which of Elliott’s runners have live chances and which are being sent to make up the numbers....

  • Benefitting from the top weight’s presence....

It’s interesting first-and-foremost that Elliott’s Outlander – who has been doing his recent running in G1 events – is sent into the race on a mark of 163....

He has a 7lb claimer onboard – along with first-time blinkers – to assist his cause. But, even so, is he there because he has a genuine chance at the weights? Or is there to ensure other Elliott runners go to post carrying less weight than would be the case if he wasn’t attending....

That’s a matter of opinion. But Monbeg Notorious is one of the Elliott horses that benefits from that scenario. He’s the mount of Jack Kennedy and he has a clear chance. But at 9s the market has pretty much found him....

DOUNIKOS is another that benefits with Davy Russell booked for the assignment – and at 16s he’s worth a bet. Because stablemate Outlander is in the field he gets to race carrying just 10-12.

Last time out he was pulled up in the G1 RSA at the Festival. That was disappointing, and connections had no explanation for his performance. But he’s obviously well thought of and prior to that Cheltenham run he’d been shaping like a horse that would benefit from a proper step-up in trip....

He gets that opportunity tomorrow at Fairyhouse. I reckon Russell would have had the opportunity to pick from quite a few of the Elliott horses and his choosing to ride the lightly-raced (over fences) 7yo is surely an indication that a big run is expected....

  • Two-against-the-field....

In a 30-runner handicap I want to be two-against-the-field....

The other one I’m going to chance is the Willie-Mullins-trained KEMBOY at a general 25s and 28s – you might even get some 33s when all the firms go up with their prices....

He’s another very lightly-raced type over fences and he’s another who could well improve significantly for what is a significant step-up in trip....

He has Fairyhouse form on deep ground – which will hold him in good stead tomorrow....

And in Bryan Cooper, Mullins has booked a quality rider who has dropped off the radar a little in recent times but who hasn’t turned into a journeyman rider overnight....

Last time out he ran in the G1 JLT at the Festival. He wasn’t up to that standard but the drop to handicap level for the first time and the opportunity to race over a proper trip could see him to much better effect....

There are no guarantees of course. Connections are rolling the dice. He might not stay. But, if he does, he is one of the unexposed runners who might well possess the quality to get competitive off a mark of 145 under a racing weight of just 10-06.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Irish Grand National (5pm @ Fairyhouse)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – DOUNIKOS each-way (16s generally) & KEMBOY each-way (25s & 28s generally)

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

Get the latest odds here >>

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd