THE Irish Grand National is one of the few jumping prizes that has eluded Willie Mullins, and the Closutton maestro will send seven in search of his maiden victory in the €500,000 Fairyhouse showpiece on Monday.
Twelve-time champion trainer Mullins (right) has a strong septet among the 30 runners with Ruby Walsh taking the mount on recent Grade Three scorer Burrows Saint (10/1), while Gold Cup-winning jockey Paul Townend rides Pairofbrowneyes (10/1).
Isleofhopendreams (25/1), last year’s runner-up, also bids to go one better for Mullins but he faces a battalion of rivals from Gordon Elliott, fresh from landing successive Aintree Grand Nationals with Tiger Roll.
Elliott sends a perfect dozen in search of Ireland’s richest jumping prize with General Principle (20/1) returning to the scene of his victory 12 months ago as the 10-year-old attempts to become the first back-to-back winner since Brown Lad (1975/’76).
The Meath trainer is also responsible for the likes of 2018 JLT Novices’ Chase winner Shattered Love (25/1), Cheltenham Festival winner Blow By Blow (40/1) and American Grand National winner Jury Duty (10/1).
Owner Michael O’Leary – who has won three of the last four runnings of the stamina-sapping 3m5f contest – has a whopping 12 runners with his best chance likely to be top-weight Tout Est Permis (10/1), winner of his last three starts for Noel Meade.
JP McManus has a paltry trio of runners in comparison but the Limerick owner holds leading claims with recent Cheltenham Festival winner Any Second Now (7/1) being the market leader for Ted Walsh.
Jonjo O’Neill brought the spoils back across the Irish Sea five years ago with Shutthefrontdoor and he saddles Minella Rocco this time around, while the other English raider is Tom Lacey’s Kimberlite Candy.
Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty has revealed that he has no intention of hanging up his saddle any time soon despite the 39-year-old being sidelined with a double leg break from a fall at Aintree.
“No, Jesus not at all, I enjoy it too much,” Geraghty told Friday Night Racing on Off The Ball. “Plan B was never great for me so no, I enjoy it too much. It’s like any lad playing football.
“But the beauty of our game is that there’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be as quick from A to B now but put you’re on a horse and the advantage is on experience, in my view.”