Home By The Lee could be the answer in Irish Grand National

Latest Exhibition looks to have a serious job on his hands to defy top weight on Monday

The Boylesports Irish Grand National has a history of family success and Home By The Lee could continue that tradition in style on Easter Monday.

Joseph O’Brien has four chances to win Ireland’s richest jumps race with Sempo in particular attracting plenty ante-post support for the €400,000 highlight.

He will be ridden by Donagh Meyler but it is O’Brien’s cousin, JJ Slevin, who takes the reins on Home By The Lee.

The 27-year-old rider, whose mother, Elizabeth, is Aidan O’Brien’s sister, is already an Irish National winner having guided General Principle to a surprise 20-1 victory in 2018.


Despite all their successes worldwide neither his uncle or cousin can boast that, although O’Brien Jnr is no stranger to major handicap wins.

A pair of Melbourne Cups as well as wins in both the Galway Plate and the Galway Hurdle testify to his ability to do the handicap tot to his advantage whatever the code.

O’Brien and Slevin also combined to win the ‘Fred Winter’ at Cheltenham in 2019 and the partnership look entitled to hold major hopes for Home By The Lee.

Winner of three of his five starts over fences, Home By The Lee bounced back from a disappointing effort in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown over Christmas to score impressively at Naas in February.

He once again showed a tendency to jump to his right on that occasion which shouldn’t be an issue around Fairyhouse.

The second of two previous wins over fences came at Grade 3 level which suggested a horse likely to relish a stamina test while Home By The Lee can also boast a maiden hurdle victory at the track.

On top of that a pair of bumper successes on good ground suggest the going will be of no issue him.

The same can’t be said for some of these if conditions quicken up although it should be to the advantage of the class horse of the race, Latest Exhibition.

The Grade 1 winning hurdler doesn’t have the thankless task of chasing his old rival Monkfish this time but humping 11.10 around three miles and five furlongs is a huge ask in itself.

Our Duke boasted a similar profile to Latest Exhibition in 2017 and won impressively although he had 11.4 on his back. Commanche Court had the same in 2000.

For Latest Exhibition to win means he’s likely to be in next season’s Gold Cup shake-up. He might be that level but his price doesn’t appear to contain much betting value about it.

Before being ruled out with a foot injury, Paul Townend had opted for Agusta Gold from the five-strong Mullins team. It will be the mare’s first run for the champion trainer and she was impressive in a Grade 3 at the track in January.

That call leaves a number of interesting ‘spares’ for other riders and none will be more pored over than Robin de Carlow.

The fact Rachael Blackmore is on board will be enough for many punters and Robin de Carlow presents a real quandary.

She hasn’t run in a year and a half but a literal reading of her defeat of Put The Kettle On in Tipperary is outstanding form. Whether it is an accurate reading is a different matter.

Other young horses on the up such as Coko Beach, Run Wild Fred and Epanito Bello hold leading chances although may not relish ground conditions getting too quick. The same could be said for The Big Dog.

That shouldn’t be an issue for Home By The Lee who looks to have plenty going for him.

It's 10 years since Organisedconfusion won the National for Nina Carberry and her uncle, Arthur Moore. Commanche Court scored for Ruby and Ted Walsh. The family theme might come to the fore again.

Grade 2 prizes

Monday’s big race is backed up a trio of Grade 2 prizes including the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle which sees Beacon Edge return to action after a fine fourth to Flooring Porter in the Stayers.

An intriguing contender though is Stormy Ireland who is back with Willie Mullins after a four-race spell with Paul Nicholls in Britain.

In her previous career with Mullins Stormy Ireland won six times and achieved figures that put her to the forefront of this if getting back to top form.

Fakir D’oudairies did best of the rest behind Allaho in the Ryanair at Cheltenham in what turned into a brutal test.

If the McManus runner has recovered properly from that then Devenish Chase then it looks a near-perfect opportunity. If he hasn’t then a freshened up Battleoverdoyen looks like one that could take advantage.

His stable companion Teahupoo has won twice already over the course and distance of the Juvenile Hurdle. Teahupoo has to concede weight to opposition including the shock 80-1 Cheltenham winner Jeff Kidder but looks up to the job.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column