McManus’s Alfie Sherrin surprise absentee for Irish Grand National

Jonjo O’Neill’s 10-year-old had been a leading fancy for the Easter Monday showpiece


Alfie Sherrin was a surprise absentee at the latest forfeit stage for Monday’s Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Jonjo O’Neill’s 10-year-old had been a leading fancy for the Easter Monday showpiece since the weights had been released.

Other notable absentees include the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Back In Focus and Boston Bob, who endured contrasting fortunes at Cheltenham.

Mullins has also taken out Quel Esprit, leaving Quiscover Fontaine, Marasonnien and Away We Go as his only possibles.

The David Pipe-trained Junior now resides at the top of the weights, followed by Tony Martin’s novice Dedigout.

Dedigout is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who could also run Sweeney Tunes, Carry Each Other, Sea Of Thunder, Magnanimity, Carlito Brigante, Romanesco, Toner D’Oudairies, Start Me Up, Panther Claw and Tillahow. Competitive Edge, Rich Revival and Jadanli are among those still in contention. There are 51 remaining entries and the maximum field is 30 runners.

Left its mark
Alfie Sherrin is owned by JP McManus and his racing manager, Frank Berry, explained that a hard race at Cheltenham, where he finished fourth behind Same Difference in the Kim Muir, had left its mark.

“There’s nothing major wrong with him, but he just hasn’t recovered from Cheltenham,” said Berry. “He had a hard race there.

“It was the intention to run at Fairyhouse so we took him out of Aintree, so he won’t be going there either.

“We have Quiscover Fontaine, Carlingford Lough and Competitive Edge left in at Fairyhouse. Quiscover could well go to Aintree but the other two will probably run. Competitive Edge has won his last two well but this is a big step up in class and he’s got a big penalty (14lb).”

Pat Fahey is hoping his decision to bypass Cheltenham with Morning Assembly will be rewarded in the Coolmore NH Sires Fame And Glory And Sans Frontieres Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Fahey had been lining up a crack at the Albert Bartlett with his six-year-old but he was not quite 100 per cent in the days before the race.

A trip to the Punchestown Festival is also on the cards if all goes well this weekend and then he will have his attentions switched to the bigger obstacles.

“I just wasn’t that happy with him before Cheltenham so we didn’t send him over, you can’t go there and not be 100 per cent,” said Co Carlow-based Fahey.

“He’s only run twice over hurdles but the form has worked out pretty well with winners and other horses that have run well.

“I’ve been very happy with him in the last few days and I’d expect him to run well.

“If the ground ever does dry up, I don’t think it will bother him. When he ran at Leopardstown in December it wasn’t that bad and he really enjoyed it. Punchestown is the plan with him after this and he might step up in trip, he’s a real galloper.”

Defy Logic, Ballycasey, Bright New Dawn and Road To Riches are the headline acts among 26 entries for the Grade Two.