Irish Grand National 2017 – Harry Fry hopeful of a big run from Fletchers Flyer at Fairyhouse on Monday

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TRAINER Harry Fry believes Fletchers Flyer can serve it up to the home team in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday.

Fletchers Flyer’s last trip to Ireland resulted in him landing a competitive handicap chase over three and three-quarter miles at the Punchestown Festival last April and he has been specially prepared for the Easter Monday showpiece.

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“It’s been the plan all season,” said Dorset-based Fry.

“He’s been in great form at home. Obviously there are 30 runners and races don’t come more competitive than this, but he relished the step up to three miles and five furlongs last year at Punchestown so he should handle the trip no problem at all.

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Fletchers Flyer (left) has been aimed at this race all season

“We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The only other British-trained runner in a maximum field, dominated by 14 horses wearing the Gigginstown colours, is the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Shutthefrontdoor, who won the race in 2014.

Shutthefrontdoor

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Shutthefrontdoor won the race back in 2014

He is one of three runners owned by JP McManus, along with Minella Foru and Oscar Knight, who gets in the race after Double Seven was declared a non runner.

Like Fletchers Flyer, Shutthefrontdoor has had a light campaign and has not raced since struggling on soft ground at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.


“He last ran on soft ground in Cheltenham and he didn’t like it. It pulled him around and he’s a little delicate these days, so he wants good ground for Monday,” said the Jackdaws Castle handler.

“He’s in good form and fresh and well in himself. He’s won it before so we know he gets the trip there. At Aintree he gets to the Melling Road and that’s as far as he goes. He is a few years older, but we are hopeful.”

Our Duke

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Our Duke (right) is the hot favourite

Despite the formidable Gigginstown presence, the market is headed by Our Duke, who bids to continue trainer Jessica Harrington’s incredible season.

“He’ll need a bit of luck in the race, he had a good school the other day and we were very happy with him,” said the County Kildare trainer.

Jessica Harrington

Sportsfile

Harrington is having a brilliant season

“As long as he can get into a rhythm early on, avoid the carnage and traffic jams and whatever. His full-brother gets three miles well so I can’t see the trip being a problem to him.

“The handicap is fairly compact which will help and makes it a better class race.

“I haven’t won the National before so to win one would be great.”

Jessica Harrington

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Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power teamed up to win the Gold Cup with Sizing John

Jockey Robbie Power, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Sizing John for Harrington, is hoping Our Duke can overcome his relative inexperience.

“He has a chance, lack of experience is against him as he’s only had the three runs over fences in smallish fields,” he said. “He’s only a novice but, saying that, novices do have a great record in the race.

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“He’s a Grade 1 winner over three miles in novice company so we know he’s got plenty of ability.”

Willie Mullins has surprisingly yet to win an Irish National and he goes into battle with three runners – Haymount, Arbre De Vie and Sambremont.

Willie Mullins

Sportsfile

Willie Mullins has three runners

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, feels Haymount is their best hope of giving the Closutton team an overdue success.

“I think Haymount has got to have a great chance,” he said.

“He stayed on well in the four-miler in Cheltenham (when third to Tiger Roll) and I think the strong pace in a race like the Irish National will suit him.

Tiger Roll

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Haymount finished third behind Tiger Roll (pictured) at the Festival

“He’s better going right-handed, he’s got a nice weight and will love the ground being by Presenting.

“Katie Walsh felt Arbre De Vie was going to run very well in the four-miler in Cheltenham until he clipped heels and came down on the flat.


“He’s still a maiden over fences, but his run behind Acapella Bourgeois in Navan is top-class form and maybe he can win a National as a maiden, just like Rule The World did in Aintree last year.

“Sambremont has been disappointing this year. We think he’s better than his mark and there’s a day in him, but we’re just hoping he’ll get his act together as what he’s shown on the track isn’t as good as what he’s been showing at home.

Rule The World rides to Grand National Glory last year

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Rule The World won the Aintree National as a maiden last year

“Maybe the drying ground will help him.”

Ellmarie Holden is excited at having her first runner in this prestigious race and in Abolitionist it is certainly no false hope.

“I’m delighted he got in and we’re really looking forward to it,” said the County Kilkenny trainer.

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“The horse is in flying form and if he runs the same as he has the last twice and gets a bit of luck, he won’t be far away.

“There’s obviously a lot of runners and I just hope he can stay out of trouble.

“Ideally the ground is yielding – we’d like a but of cut.

“Rachael (Blackmore, jockey) is obviously flying and it would be a dream come true to win a race like this.”

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