With a bumper prize pot in 2017, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National has attracted 124 entries for it's annual renewal at Fairyhouse on April 17th.
There was no real surprise that trainer Gordon Elliott dominated the entries with 28 potential runners, with Champion Trainer Willie Mullins in second with 14 entries. Elliott has never won the Irish National and with it's pot worth €500K, a decent showing could seal the deal for him and secure his first Trainer Championship.
With the weights already issued, it's Elliott's Outlander who has been given top weight of 11-10. interestingly, this was also the weight the BHA Handicapper gave him for the Aintree Grand National before he unceremoniously withdrawn in protest. That said, the Irish Grand National is run over a shorter distance with less runners and fences to jump so top weight may not be as difficult to carry.
Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli are next on the list with 11st 8bs and 11st 7lbs respectively. All three horses are owned by Gigginstown House Stud who have won the race for the past two years with Rogue Angel in 2016 and Thunder And Roses in 2015 – both of whom have entries for Aintree.
Seven of the Top 10 in the weights for the Irish National are also still in contention for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree and with only nine days between the two races it's unlikely that any of them will take a crack at both.
Eight of the first 10 horses home in last year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National have been entered again with the Mouse Morris-trained winner, Rogue Angel set to carry 10st 1lb this time. He did the double last year scooping both the Irish and Aintree Grand Nationals when Rule The World romped home having never won a chase in his racing career.
With the prize money now increased for the winner from €152K to €270K it's definitely all to play for and Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at BoyleSports, said, “We are delighted to be sponsoring Ireland’s richest steeplechase, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, with an increased prize pot of a record €500,000.
“We are looking forward to the prestigious race steeped in history at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. With the significant increase in prize-money, we are delighted to see so many overseas entrants for the race in what is looking set to be the best ever BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
“We are very proud to have our name associated with the richest jumps race in the country. BoyleSports continues to invest in the Irish sporting industry, with Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker also sponsoring the BoyleSports Champion Chase and the BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby.”