BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase | 3m4½f | 5yo+ | RTV
This race has the potential to become attritional. As if three and a half miles over fences around Punchestown wasn’t enough of a test, the heavy ground will ensure the emphasis will well and truly be on stamina.
With that in mind, it could be worth looking at the bottom end of the handicap, as a light weight could be paramount given the conditions.
Gordon Elliott, who has won the last two runnings, is well represented with seven, one of which, Cheb De Kerviniou looks to be attractively weighted off just 10st 5lbs.
The Elliott-trained Minella Till Dawn is likely to make the market off the back of an easy win at Cork last month, for which he was raised 14lb by the handicapper, while stablemate Out Sam is at his best when the mud is flying and should relish the conditions.
Rocky’s Silver, trained in Cork by James Dullea, is another horse who relishes testing ground and he has the profile of an improving staying chaser who could bag a nice prize.
An impressive winner of an amateur riders' handicap chase at the track last month, Rocky's Silver will race off a career-high mark of 130, but Conor Orr negates five of the seven pounds he got for that impressive win.
It is interesting that for the two times betting opened up on this contest before it was eventually called off due to the weather, there was each-way money for Paul Nolan’s Mon Lino.
A proven stayer who acts well on heavy ground, Mon Lino has the ability to get involved and is another to factor in.
What the stats say
Gordon Elliott has been the main beneficiary of this race being given an injection of prize-money in 2018 with the trainer winning the past two runnings of this €100,000 contest with Folsom Blue and Dounikos.
It may be billed as a Grand National Trial, but no horse has managed to follow up in the Fairyhouse showpiece in recent times, although Hedgehunter won this race for Willie Mullins in 2003 before winning at Aintree in 2005.
What they say
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Roaring Bull, General Principle, Minella Till Dawn, Out Sam, Gun Digger, Prince Of Scars and Cheb De Kerviniou
Minella Till Dawn looks to have a good chance but I also like the top horse [Roaring Bull] and the bottom horse [Cheb De Kerviniou] as well. It's a fantastic pot and, while his recent form isn't brilliant, Out Sam is a horse who loves a slog and he could come into it on the ground. General Principle is a former Irish Grand National winner who was third in the race last year off a higher mark, Prince Of Scars will handle the ground while Gun Digger will need to find improvement to get involved.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Stones And Roses and Ifyoucatchmenow
Both are in off a nice weight and will like the extended trip. They are nice jumpers and it will be an advantage being the right end of the handicap.
James Dullea, trainer of Rocky's Silver
I’m delighted the race has been rescheduled and hopefully it goes ahead. If anything, all of this rain will suit us more as he loves soft ground. The trip will suit, the ground is in our favour and Conor [Orr] knows him well. We’re hoping for a big run.
Paul Nolan, trainer of Mon Lino
It depends which Mon Lino turns up. He seems to have two ways of running. Slippers [Niall Madden] seems to get on well with him and he will like the ground, maybe the extreme isn't going to be ideal, but he does like it heavy. He was a little bit unlucky in his last chase run but we're hoping for the best with him now.
Tony Martin, trainer of Clen En Main
He ran well the last day and it's a good pot worth having a crack at. He's got a grand weight so fingers crossed he runs well.