Murphy's National hopes
There was plenty to catch the eye of astute Wexford racing fans when the BoyleSports Irish Grand National weights were announced during the past week.
The Colm Murphy-trained Empire Of Dirt, so impressive at Naas recently, has been given 9 st. 7 lbs. and is currently available at odds of 20/1.
'All going well, he'll take his place,' said Murphy from his Killenagh base on Monday morning. 'He has had a bit of stop-start campaign, with a couple of falls. He fell in his beginners' chase at Navan and fell when going really well at Thurles. He is a novice with plenty of experience and won well at Naas the last day. He goes on all ground and should like the nicer ground. The trip is a little into the unknown as he has never won past two and a half. But we're happy he goes there with a real good chance.'
Murphy added that Mister Hotelier, who just missed getting in at Cheltenham, will most likely head for a novice handicap, also at the Easter meeting at Fairyhouse.
Jamie Codd's recent pair of Cheltenham Festival winners are also entered in the Easter showpiece. The David Pipe-trained The Package carries 10 st. 8 lbs. and is available at odds of around 20/1, while the Codd's other Festival winner, Cause Of Causes (10 st. 7 lbs.) is a 16/1 chance. Pipe's father, Martin, saddled Omerta to win the Irish National in 1991, under the then amateur Adrian Maguire.
British trainers have a fine record in the Irish Grand National and they are responsible for nine entries altogether. The Philip Hobbs-trained If In Doubt has been given 10 st. 12 lbs. and is a 14/1 chance while Le Reve on 10 st. 8 lbs. is priced up at 16/1.
Henry De Bromhead's Grand Jesture and the Tony Martin-trained Gallant Oscar are high up in the early betting for the €275,000 competition, which takes place at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, April 6.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins has yet to win the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, and he has put two horses in the three miles and five furlongs contest. With 10 st. 1 lb., Perfect Gentleman is a 16/1 chance and on 9 st. 10 lbs., Dogora is priced up at 25/1.
Gordon Elliott is another who has yet to win the race. Alongside Cause of Causes, he is responsible for the top-weight Don Cossack (11 st. 10 lbs.), who looked an unlucky loser at Cheltenham and Roi Du Mee (11 st.) who scored his 16th career success when winning at Down Royal on Tuesday. They are priced up at 16/1 and 25/1 respectively while Bless The Wings (9 st. 9 lbs.) is available at 16/1.
Jim Dreaper is a four-time winner of the race and he has entered three horses for this year's renewal, including the recent Midlands Grand National winner Goonyella who has been allotted 10 st. 2 lbs.