The release of the weights for the Irish Grand National which takes place two-and-a-half weeks after the Aintree equivalent could give punters valuable insight into this year’s renewal of the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Seeing how the Irish handicapper ‘s rating of racehorses compares to that of his British counterpart makes for interesting reading. What clues can the Irish National weights give us about the English Grand National run on Saturday, 6 April?
Tiger Roll rated the same
It’s official. The thriving Tiger Roll is rated the same calibre of horse on either side of the Irish Sea. Trained by Gordon Elliott for owners Gigginstown House Stud, the nine-year-old is looking to become one of the very rare back-to-back Grand National winners and bookmakers Betfair have him a standout 11/2 favourite for Aintree.
History is against Tiger Roll repeating his heroics from last year. No horse since Red Rum has managed to win consecutive Grand Nationals but he defied a big price to land the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle after a mid-winter break.
Tiger Roll then followed-up with a fourth Cheltenham Festival victory when making a successful defence of his Cross Country Chase title. He is clearly a horse that bookmakers really fear can defy the odds again.
Rathvinden well-in at Aintree
Willie Mullins has finally got that Cheltenham Gold Cup monkey off his back thanks to Al Boum Photo ending the hoodoo. He’s kept the powder of last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden pretty dry since with just the one run en route to the Grand National.
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) 18 March 2019
Although now aged 11, Rathvinden took the Bobbyjo Chase on his return to action. That came after the Aintree Grand National weights were published and the Irish handicapper has him 5lb higher were he to go back to Fairyhouse over Easter instead.
Rathvinden has clearly been trained very much with the English National in mind since his Cheltenham Festival success in 2018. He is also prominent in the Aintree betting at 12/1 as a result.
Pairofbrowneyes in very light
Leinster National winner Pairofbrowneyes has an Irish ratings hike of 9lb on the back of his recent success at Naas. That gives connections of the 10-year-old every incentive to race at Aintree – and he looks likely to get in – instead of staying in the Emerald Isle.
It’s clear that Ireland’s handicapper rates the form of his five-length victory over last year’s Irish National runner-up Isleofhopendreams highly. Mullins trained the first three home in the Leinster National and Pairofbrowneyes won the previous year’s renewal at Gowran Park.
A gamble is developing on him as a result and Betfair have cut the Aintree Grand National odds for Pairofbrowneyes into 28/1 as a result. While he does have stamina at the extreme trip to prove unlike Tiger Roll and Rathvinden, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that’ll be no problem at 9lb well in.
Irish rating suggests Minella Rocco has it all to do
Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus are no strangers to Grand National success. Like Mullins and Elliott, O’Neill has won the Aintree showpiece before and Minella Rocco has the big one on Merseyside as his end-of-season target.
As another former winner of the National Hunt Chase over four miles and later runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to Sizing John, this nine-year-old has some top class to form to his name. The worry is he’s seldom replicated that since.
The Irish assessor has Minella Rocco on a rating that is 7lb lower for their Grand National than the English equivalent. It may be an enticement to instead go to Fairyhouse but he’s 25/1 if lining up at Aintree. Wherever he goes, a sound surface to race on looks key for Minella Rocco.