Irish Grand National

irish grand national

Irish Grand National 2019

The €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National, held at Fairyhouse Racecourse, is the blue-riband event at the Easter Festival and is held on Easter Monday every year. The 2020 running of the race will take place on Monday April 13, with over 30,000 people expected to descend on the track over the three-day meeting.

The race is run over a stamina-sapping three miles and five-furlong trip with 24 fences to be jumped in the process, including two in the home straight before the run-in over the final furlong.

Willie Mullins won the Irish Grand National for the first time in 2019 and completed a 1-2-3 with Burrows Saint leading the way for Ruby Walsh and Rich Ricci ahead of Isleofhopendreams and Acapella Bourgeois.

€270,000 is the prize given to the winning Irish Grand National owners, with Gigginstown House Stud - who have recently announced they are winding down their racing operation - taking home that pot in three of the last five years with Thunder And Roses (2015), Rogue Angel (2016) and General Principle (2018). The 2017 Irish Grand National meanwhile was taken by Our Duke for jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington.

The Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup is the other major highlight at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, with the race over two miles and four furlongs limited to novice chasers and taking place on Easter Sunday.

With a total prize fund of €100,000, the race often attracts the elite middle-distance novice chasers of the season, as the Punchestown Festival only has novice Grade 1 races at two and three miles.

The race usually throws up several top-class horses to follow, including Al Boum Photo who took the race in 2018 for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins before winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019. The mighty three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup hero and 1964 Irish Grand National winner Arkle was victorious in this race back in 1963 while 1974 Gold Cup winner Captain Christy took first place earlier that year.

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Fairyhouse Irish Grand National Tips

The Irish Grand National course at Fairyhouse itself is a wide, galloping, right-handed track which covers over 14 furlongs with 11 fences to be negotiated. There is a steady climb as the horses and riders leave the stands before a downhill run on the back straight.

That means the finish is uphill but it would not be as stiff as a course like Galway or Cheltenham. It does though still provide a real stamina test with a one furlong run-in after the final fence.

As it is a reasonably fair track, there are rarely any hard-luck stories at Fairyhouse and you can win from any position in the early stages. The fences there are some of the stiffest around and wouldn’t be very forgiving so it can be worth sticking with a horse who doesn’t have jumping frailties under pressure.

Ante-post betting will be available on the race before the Aintree Grand National, but you need to consider which horses will run in the Liverpool showpiece event. They are definitely worth steering clear of, as Irish trainers tend to leave their horses in the Fairyhouse race in the event of an early fall or unseat.

We will be studying each and every runner at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, including the BoyleSports Irish Grand National contenders. Look out for our race preview in the weeks leading up to the race.

Our big race selection, made by our team of betting tipsters, will be found on our daily horse racing tips page on the day before the race.

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Betting on the Irish Grand National

With a maximum field of 30 runners expected in the Irish Grand National, usually you get a wide-open betting market, meaning plenty of each-way value can be found.

Bookmakers will tend to offer plenty of special markets, including winning owner and trainer. Gordon Elliott had 12 runners in the 2019 race while Willie Mullins had seven participants. Gigginstown House Stud - owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary - had 12 runners but his best finisher was back in sixth.

Remarkably, two of the last three winners have been favourite with Burrows Saint (6/1f) and Our Duke (9/2f) rewarding punters betting at the head of the market.

Many bookmakers will be offering free bet bonuses and as many as seven extra places on the Irish Grand National, so keep your eyes peeled and check for any special offers on the day of the race.

Famous Irish Grand National Winners

Brown Lad, trained by Jim Dreaper, is the only horse to have won the Irish Grand National on three occasions, finishing ahead of the field in 1975, 1976 and 1978.

Tom Dreaper - father of Jim - won the race on no less than 10 occasions with horses such as Arkle, Flyingbolt and Fortria while Pat Taaffe rode six Irish Grand National winners, including four of those for Dreaper.

The first horse to complete the Irish and English Grand National double was Ascetic’s Silver back in 1904, but in more recent times Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde have all won both races.

No horse has ever won both races in the same year though, with less than 10 days between the Aintree and Fairyhouse showpiece events.

Dress Code at the Irish Grand National

At the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, the racecourse does not impose a strict dress code in any of the enclosures on course, with a relaxed atmosphere the order of the day.

They do recommend ‘smart casual’ when attending the Bobbyjo Bistro or Private Suites but insist they are happy to welcome anyone into the course (providing their attire is not offensive). All are welcome at the Irish Grand National meeting but note the weather can be extremely temperamental!

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