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Intense Raffles holds off Any Second Now to land Irish Grand National

Intense Raffles, the youngest challenger in the 20-runner BoyleSports Irish Grand National, held off all rivals in thrilling fashion to provide JJ Slevin and Thomas Gibney with a second success in Ireland's richest jumps race at Fairyhouse on Monday.

The six-year-old toughed it out in the straight to hold off the strong-staying Any Second Now, who is double his age, with Minella Cocooner finishing the best of the Willie Mullins trio in third.

Intense Raffles is the first horse County Meath-based Gibney has trained for leading owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and he was completing a hat-trick after two wins at Fairyhouse. Daryl Jacob had ridden him on those starts but he was unable to ride after breaking a collarbone last week.

The 13-2 second favourite was ridden prominently throughout although recovered from a mistake four-out his jockey felt may have cost him his chance.

Slevin said on Racing TV: "It's a massive race to win and that was a good performance. It's unbelievable really.

"I thought they didn't go quick and I was comfortable where I was, we were just pottering away. 

"I gave the fourth-last a right belt and I thought that'd knock the stuffing out of him. He stuck out his head and galloped all the way to the line."

Gibney also trained Lion Na Bearnai to win the race in 2012 while Slevin partnered General Principle to win for Gordon Elliott six years later.

The trainer, who was sending out just his 13th winner of the season, expressed his thrill to reward the big-spending owners who took a chance on him – rather than sending the horse to some of Ireland's more established big yards.

He said: "I'm buzzing. That's every bit as much as a thrill [as 2012] for different reasons. He came here as second favourite and we had huge confidence in him. He ran just like we expected he would. It's a very satisfying feeling.

"It was a big shout for a big outfit like Simon Munir and Isaac Souede to put a horse with a small stable like us compared to the giant stables and powerhouse where a lot of the owners migrate to. Fair play to them, it took a bit of doing. It's brilliant to be able to repay them."

Gibney also trained Lion Na Bearnai to win the race in 2012 while Slevin partnered General Principle to win for Gordon Elliott six years later.

Frontal Assault, who had made most of the running, finished fourth ahead of History Of Fashion and We'llhavewan.

2024 Irish Grand National results

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