Mullins assembles strong team in bid for elusive Irish Grand National win

Pairofbrowneyes and Isleofhopendreams among the top trainer’s selection

Willie Mullins: “I’d like to hopefully one day win one. My father was lucky enough to win the Irish National four times. That’s sort of something I would be conscious of.”

Willie Mullins: “I’d like to hopefully one day win one. My father was lucky enough to win the Irish National four times. That’s sort of something I would be conscious of.”

 

Willie Mullins memorably broke his Cheltenham Gold Cup hoodoo with Al Boum Photo last month and now plans to turn his attention to Monday’s €500,000 Boylesports Irish Grand National.

Ireland’s most valuable National Hunt prize is another rare pot to have eluded the champion trainer during his stellar career. Mullins will try to change that by attacking Fairyhouse’s Easter festival feature in strength.

Pairofbrowneyes was switched from Aintree to target the race and is rated a 10-1 second favourite in many ante-post markets.

On Tuesday Mullins indicated that last year’s narrowly beaten runner-up, Isleofhopendreams, is another likely to take his chance along with other contenders such as Total Recall, Bellow Mome and the novice Burrows Saint.

Having emulated his father, Paddy, who won the Gold Cup with Dawn Run, Mullins is aware of following in family footsteps if successful on Monday.

“I’d like to hopefully one day win one. My father was lucky enough to win the Irish National four times. That’s sort of something I would be conscious of,” he said.

In 2018 Al Boum Photo filled a previously rare Grade One gap on the Mullins CV when landing the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase.

Eight of the 17 left in Sunday’s renewal of the €100,000 Grade One after the latest forfeit stage are Mullins-trained and they include the Arkle hero Duc Des Genievres.

Whether or not he lines up in the two and a half mile contest, or waits for Punchestown, could be determined by ground conditions at Fairyhouse.

The going was yielding and good to yielding in places on Tuesday and Mullins said: “I’m delighted to see all this rain. I would think Fairyhouse needs all of it, and probably watering too, but we’ll see.”

Also among the contenders for a race formerly known as the Powers Gold Cup are Henry De Bromhead’s wide-margin Cheltenham handicap winner A Plus Tard and the JP McManus-owned Winter Escape.

Sunday’s other Grade One at Fairyhouse is the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle, won last year by Laurina at prohibitive odds of 2-11.

Eglantine Du Seuil carried the same Sullivan Bloodstock colours to a shock 50-1 victory in the mares novice event at Cheltenham last month and is among 21 entries for Sunday’s race.

Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle missed Cheltenham due to a setback but is also among the hopefuls for this weekend.

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