Rachael Blackmore hoping for fifth time lucky at Irish Grand National

Irish jockey back in action on Easter Monday aboard De Bromhead’s Full Time Score

Rachael Blackmore will try to make it fifth time lucky in Easter Monday's Boylesports Irish Grand National when she teams up with Full Time Score in Ireland's richest jumps race.

The sole Henry De Bromhead-trained runner is one of 30 hopefuls that were declared on Good Friday for the €500,000 Fairyhouse highlight.

Up to 14,000 people are expected to attend the traditional Easter feature which was abandoned due to the pandemic in 2020 and was run behind closed doors last year.

The best Blackmore has done in four previous attempts in the race was when third on Abolitionist to Our Duke in 2017.


De Bromhead too has never won the historic race which celebrates its 150th renewal on Monday.

Blackmore and De Bromhead continued their remarkable run of recent success at last month's Cheltenham festival when combining to complete the Champion Hurdle -Gold Cup double with Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard.

They were out of luck in last weekend’s Aintree National when defending champion Minella Times exited at the ninth fence.

Blackmore will be in Cork on Easter Sunday to partner Minella Times in a Grade Three chase but her big-race focus will switch back to Fairyhouse for Full Time Score.

The eight-year-old is one of the most inexperienced runners in the 30-strong field but he is as low as 8-1 in some ante-post betting lists.

Blackmore will attempt to become just the fourth woman to ride an Irish National winner and the first professional woman.

Ann Ferris was the first in 1984 on Bentom Boy. Both Nina Carberry in 2011 and Katie Walsh four years later also won as amateurs.


One of Willie Mullins’s two runners, Gallard Du Mesnil, is a 6-1 favourite with the National sponsors.

However, it is Mullins's great rival Gordon Elliott who dominates numerically with 11 chances declared. That is two less than his 2018 team when he won with General Principle.

Elliott also has the second reserve General Plan. He will need two to come out by Sunday morning’s final cut off at 10am.

JP McManus has the two other reserves as well as eight who are assured of a place. They include the sole cross-channel contender Time To Get Up.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary also has eight horses among the 30 as he pursues a fifth Irish National victory.

In contrast, Francis Casey, who trains a handful of horses at his north Co Dublin trainer yard, will try to secure a career-best success with Max Flamingo.

He is prominent in the betting and Casey said: “I think he has a good chance. It’s local enough and it’s probably the biggest steeplechase in the country

“I know it’s only a handicap but it’s the biggest as regards prize money and it has a huge history to it.

“It would be great [to win] especially from a real small stable as I’ve only five horses in training.”

Easter festival action at both Fairyhouse and Cork starts on Saturday and the Co Meath track has been boosted by Galopin Des Champs returning to action in Sunday’s Grade One novice chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained horse threw away certain Cheltenham success with a dramatic final fence spill last month but is already joint-favourite for next year’s Gold Cup with A Plus Tard.

Mullins’s exciting novice is sure to be a hot favourite against a handful of opponents that include Master McShee, who chased home Galopin Des Champs at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Fairyhouse officials are monitoring the situation regarding further watering of the track.

The going is currently yielding and good to yielding in places but up to 10mms of rain is forecast for Sunday.

That won’t be any problem to the single cross-channel raider in Sunday’s other Grade One, the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle.

The Cheltenham festival winner Love Envoi will try to follow in the footsteps of Honeysuckle who won this event in 2019.

Her trainer Harry Fry was successful in 2015 with Bitofapuzzle, although Love Envoi will face the might of an eight-strong Willie Mullins team.

Grangee did best of the Mullins runners when third to Love Envoi at Cheltenham where Dinoblue proved a major disappointment.

She started a well-backed favourite but after racing prominently faded to ninth. A change of tactics could help Dinoblue get much closer this time.

Shane Fitzgerald, a Cheltenham festival winner on the 50-1 outsider Commander Of Fleet, will employ his 5lb claim for Gigginstown Stud on board Farclas in the National.

Before that he takes that claim off another Gigginstown runner, Eric Bloodaxe, who is topweight for Saturday's novice handicap hurdle final.

Eric Bloodaxe barely raised a gallop in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, so it will be interesting if first-time blinkers rejuvenate him back to the form that saw him win impressively at Limerick over Christmas.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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