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Lucky Loader’s 2024 Irish Grand National Preview: “He ticks several of the boxes”

The biggest spectacle of the Easter period will be the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday. It’s always a very competitive race, and finding the winner is never easy.

In recent years, we’ve had well-backed favourites like Our Duke and Burrows Saint win the race, as well as outsiders like Lord Lariat and Freewheelin Dylan, who won the race at 200/1 in 2021, so it can be a very tricky puzzle to solve.

Before I give you my thoughts on this year’s renewal, it will be good to look at a few different trends. Here are a few that I think will be useful to try and keep on side when finalising your selections.

  • 9 of the last 10 winners were aged 9 or younger
  • 9 of the last 10 winners had won over at least 3m previously 
  • 7 of the last 10 winners carried 10-8 or less

The current favourite for the race at the time of writing is Nick Rockett for Willie Mullins. It won’t be a surprise to many that multiple Irish Champion Trainer has a good record in the race, winning it on two occasions since 2019.

His main hope this year is Nick Rockett. He looks to have been saved for this race, as he missed the Cheltenham Festival, where he probably would have run the National Hunt Chase. He ticks several of the boxes, given the fact that he is young and unexposed. However, this will be a different test than what he’s had before, and I haven’t been convinced by his jumping, so I’d be keen to take him on.

In these kinds of races, it’s good to have at least a couple of horses up your sleeve, as you have a few darts and not get close.

The way I am looking at playing the race is to go for the Gavin Cromwell-trained pair of Yeah Man and Hartur D’Arc, who both tick the boxes for the positive trends.

Out of the two, I slightly prefer Yeah Man, who was a good winner of the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February. He had been knocking on the door in several big handicaps in the UK this season, but he finally got his act together last time out. Moreover, that form doesn’t look too bad, as the late Highland Hunter and Famous Bridge went on to run well next time out. He’s still only seven years old, and I think, off a mark of 140, I can see him being involved.

The other Cromwell-trained runner, Hartur D’Arc, also has a similar profile. He was last seen winning the Leinster National at Naas earlier in the month. It might be a bit of a quick turnaround for him to run in the Irish National, but the way he won last time suggests there is plenty still to come from him.

Overall, I don’t think this is the deepest renewal of the Irish Grand National I’ve ever seen, as a lot of horses that could have taken part have their sights set on Aintree next month. However, it is always a great race to watch, and hopefully Gavin Cromwell can add his name to the roll of honour.


Yeah Man (10/1)

Hartur D’Arc (8/1) 

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