The 150-1 success of Freewheelin Dylan last year was a reminder that the Irish Grand National can be every bit as unpredictable as the original, and this year’s renewal also includes six runners who failed to complete the first circuit at Aintree last week.
That half-dozen includes Run Wild Fred, who was backed down to just 8-1 shortly before the off but fell at the Canal Turn, and Enjoy D’Allen, another fancied runner, who unseated his rider when stumbling on landing over the first.
The record of Aintree Grand National runners on Easter Monday is poor, however: of 22 runners to have gone on from Liverpool to Fairyhouse since 2004, 14 were pulled up, five more finished 10th or worse and only one (in fourth) has even made the frame.
Gaillard Du Mesnil, the early favourite, is making his handicap debut off 154 having run third in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novice Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and clearly has scope for progress after just four chase starts.
This is a very different test, however, and there are other contenders at better odds with as much, if not more, potential for improvement over extreme distances. Max Flamingo (nap 5.00) is perhaps the most interesting of these.
Francis Casey’s seven-year-old has improved steadily over fences this season during a campaign that has seemingly been planned with Monday’s race in mind, and the move up to a marathon trip could well see him take another big step forward.
Kempton Park 2.55 Just four runners but a surprisingly competitive contest all the same. Maljoom and Bayraq both have plenty of scope for improvement but Saga has the strongest form to date and posted a strong time to beat a subsequent winner at Ascot last autumn.
Fairyhouse 3.15 Carrig Sam, unbeaten in two starts over hurdles, must have been a tricky one for the handicapper to assess but asking him to give weight to all but one of his rivals is not, on the face of it, an open goal. Folcano has yet to win at this trip but he has run well in several very competitive events and was not beaten far in the Pertemps Final last time. He can put his experience to good use here.
Kempton Park 3.30 An excellent renewal of the Rosebery Handicap, with all 11 runners priced up at 14-1 or below. Diamond Bay has the benefit of a run this season, and he had plenty to spare when easing to a three-and-a-quarter length success at Kempton in early March.
Fairyhouse 3.50 Having maintained his winning streak despite finding some trouble in running last time, a repeat of that form would give Flame Bearer every chance of a fourth consecutive success.
Kempton Park 4.05 After making a decent return to action over track and trip last time, Roman Mist can get a first success at Listed level on the board.
Fairyhouse 4.20 Having run well at Grade One level on his last five starts, a slight drop in class should see Janidil get his head in front for the first time this season.