Irish Grand National 2023: how many runners?


The Irish Grand National is an annual horse racing event in Ireland, usually in April. You can check with official sources closer to the event date for the latest information on schedules, participating horses, jockeys and trainers, among other details.

Thousands of punters will flock to the Co Meath venue for one of the biggest days of the jumps racing calendar.

Noel Meade aims to win the €500,000 race for the second time since the victory on The Bunny Boiler in 2002, and his prayers for rain have been answered for the late favourite Thedevilscoachman.

Recent Cheltenham Festival winners and runners-up Angel’s Dawn and Stumptown have renewed their rivalry and are both tops of the market for the 3m5f race.

But there are plenty of horses, including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle-winning team Barry Connell and Espanito Bello for Michael O’Sullivan. At the same time, Willie Mullins’ runners include I Am Maximus, who went down at 113,999/1 eight-timers on Sunday.

After the top 40 horses stood their ground in the final field of 40 runners announced for the 2023 Randox Grand National at Aintree Racecourse this Saturday, Corach Rambler with William Hill is the 7-1 favourite.

Daffy Blew – who ran in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday – and was among the top 40 at Monday’s five-day announcement stage, was pulled out of the Aintree showpiece along with Paul Gilligan’s Born by the Sea. That means the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second No – who has finished third and second in the last two Grand Nationals – leads the barrier at 11st12lb. He was bested at 14-1 with William Hill.

The Lucinda Russell-trained Corach Rambler has been a market leader since winning the Ultima Handicap Chase for the second year at last month’s Cheltenham Festival. Last year’s Grand National winner, the Emmett Mullins-trained Noble Yates, was fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Gallopin des Champs as he took another crack at the Aintree showpiece. He is currently best value at 8-1 with most bookmakers in his bid for a 10th doubles win.

Another leading newcomer to the line-up is last year’s third Delta Work. He won his second consecutive Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and is trained by Gordon Elliott, a triple Grand National winner at Cheltenham. He is best priced at 8-1 for the Grand National and leads six entries for the county meat handler. As well as the Delta work – Galvin, Fury Road, Cocoa Beach, Escaria Ten, and Dunboyne trainer Elliot Aintree make up his team as he bids for a record-equal fourth success in the showpiece.

The field is dominated by Irish-trained competitors, with 27 of the 40 from the Emerald Isle eyeing a fourth successive Grand National win. Other British contenders besides Korach Rambler, such as Le Milos, trained by Dan Skelton; the Big Breakaway, introduced by Joe Tizzard; and Mr Coffee, trained by Nicky Henderson, who has not won despite having more than 40 starters since his debut. Zongalero finished runner-up in 1979. Back on the Lash, a winner on the cross-country course at Cheltenham earlier in the season is another Brit for trainer Martin Keighley. Former footballer and manager Harry Redknapp partly own it.

The reserve system has been scrapped this year, so from now on, if someone in the final 40 is declared a non-runner, and when the race starts at 5.15 pm, there will be less than the maximum 40-man line-up field.

Monday was Willie Mullins’ day at Fairyhouse, and let’s face it, there aren’t many big jumps racing days on either side of the Irish Sea that don’t include one of the most successful National Hunt trainers of modern times.

I AM MAXIMUS rounded off an unprecedented Easter weekend for the Mullins team winning the Irish Grand National.

The man was at home recuperating from a hip operation but must have been grinning from ear to ear through any pain as the thrilling finish unfolded.

The result was doubtful until Paul Townend finished his masterclass of a ride with a coup de grace that broke the hearts of all associated with the brave runner-up Gevrey, who looked home for all the money over the last jump of 22 fences.

It’s fair to say that I promised Maximus more than Nicky Henderson. Since joining Mullins, he has looked like an awkward customer, with an alarming tendency to jump to the left (not the norm in a right-handed Fairyhouse).

Owner JP McManus, who bought the seven-year-old last month following a promising performance at Cheltenham, had already won three Irish Nationals, the first in 1983. Still, I firmly believe he won’t be the fourth one after seeing his new purchase uncomfortably over the first few fences at the back of the pack.

“If Paul could have heard me, I’d have told him to pull over after a mile,” she admits. “But fair play to him, he dug in. It’s been a great ride
“Does it mean like my first win 40 years ago? You never get tired of winning Irish Nationals.”

A second success in the country’s most iconic competition was undoubtedly the highlight of a Mullins bonanza over the long Easter weekend. Still, he will also take great satisfaction from Monkfish’s comeback run in the grade two hurdle.

Monkfish was a yard superstar before long, winning the Cheltenham Festival in 2020 and 2021, then a post-post favourite for last year’s Gold Cup until a crucial leg injury put all plans on hold.

We naturally wonder how much ability he retains after nearly two years, but the answer is plenty. And his narrow defeat to Asterion Forlonge won’t be seen as one that goes away, especially given that – surprise, surprise – Mullins trains the winner.

With three of the four runners and another outsider, Mullins would always land the Fairyhouse Chase barring a minor miracle.

But with any horse? It looked like Johnnydil as she walked eight lengths clear to the last fence, but the fat lady didn’t start singing.

It seemed like a reasonably innocuous mistake, but their front legs buckled on the landing, and down he went, leaving Easy Game to pick up the pieces.

All eyes are now on Aintree, and a maximum field of 40 will likely line up for Saturday evening’s Grand National.

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Marta Lopez

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