Plan for Cause of Causes not yet decided

JP McManus’s Cheltenham winner has a choice of Grand Nationals for his next start

JP McManus's Cheltenham festival winner Cause Of Causes has a choice of upcoming Grand Nationals for his next start and a tilt at the Aintree spectacular is not certain.

The Gordon Elliott trained winner of the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the recent festival is a general 20-1 shot for Aintree in less than three weeks' time but holds an entry in the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse five days earlier on Easter Monday.

McManus also owns the current 8-1 Liverpool favourite, Shutthefrontdoor, winner of last year's Irish National, and his racing manager Frank Berry said: "Shutthefrontdoor and Cause Of Causes are in at Liverpool but Cause Of Causes is in the Irish as well and that could still be an option for him. It's not written in stone where he will go yet."

The McManus team's other Fairyhouse options include the Philip Hobbs-trained If In Doubt, fifth to Don Poli in the RSA, and Tony McCoy could have a choice to make on his last attempt to add to Butler's Cabin's 2007 Irish National victory.


Three weeks

One man who won’t be carrying the McManus colours at either Fairyhouse or Liverpool will be the season’s leading jockey in Ireland,

Mark Walsh

, who broke his arm in a fall at Thurles last month.

"We won't know about him coming back in time for Punchestown for another three weeks when he goes back to his specialist," said Walsh's agent, Garry Cribben.

Walsh is one of a group of jockeys hoping to return from injury in time for Punchestown at the end of next month.

Davy Russell, who broke his arm at Gowran on Saturday, faces a six-week spell on the sidelines, as does Barry Geraghty who suffered a hairline fracture of his left tibia at Downpatrick on Sunday. Both men miss out on Fairyhouse and Aintree but Geraghty reported: "Hopefully I can get back for Punchestown."

One trainer keenly feeling the absence of both Geraghty and Russell is Neil Mulholland with the Co Antrim trainer left looking for a jockey for his prime Aintree National hope, The Druids Nephew.

Geraghty rode the horse to win at Cheltenham and Mulholland said: “My second choice if Barry wasn’t available was Davy Russell as he rode him in the Hennessy, so Plan A and B are both out . . .

“I’ve had plenty agents on the phone already but there’s no need to make an immediate decision. It’s not a decision we can make quickly as he’s going there with a serious chance.

“I’d like whoever rides him to school him first and we need some rain before we can school him on the grass.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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