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Fairyhouse Easter Festival: Kate a Bonny bet for Irish Grand National glory

| 28.03.2016

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 26, 2016

Noel Meade mare Bonny Kate looks to have strong claims of giving her handler a second success in the Irish Grand National (17:00), which is the centrepiece of Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival on Monday.

Most reliable of market leaders

Winning her last three starts, including when making all to land the trial for this race at Punchestown in January, six-year-old chestnut horse Bonny Kate is a more worthy market principal than ante post favourite Venitien De Mai.


Jim Draper’s bay gelding has only ever won on heavy ground, including his previous couple of outings. Unless there is persistent rain during the Easter Weekend, Venitien De Mai will not get that going and is yet to test himself over a greater distance than 3m.

That is a clear indicator that Bonny Kate’s connections have prepared her for the Irish National far better.

Gordon Elliott horse Mala Beach is also fancied, if the betting is any indicator, but is winless since December 2014.


Following a 19-length fourth of seven behind Don Poli in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival 15 months ago, Mala Beach has either fallen or finished second in a quartet of runs this season.

McManus duo are dangerous and doubtful

Another Hero, who hails from the stable of Jonjo O’Neill, may threaten Bonny Kate’s bid to win the Irish Grand National, however.

The JP McManus owned gelding was victorious in a pair of handicap chases at Ascot and Ludlow upon returning to action after more than a year-and-a-half on the sidelines.


The Cheltenham Festival winners keep on coming, with recent Kim Muir Challenge Cup victor Cause Of Causes carrying top weight at 11st 10lb.

Also owned by Irish gambling heavyweight McManus, his reappearance so soon after recording that result around Prestbury Park – plus the fact he gives 15lb to Bonny Kate – leaves a lot to be desired.

Gigginstown take scattergun approach

There is also a considerable Gigginstown House Stud contingent in the Irish National, including 2015 winner Thunder And Roses and Sandra Hughes stablemate Sub Lieutenant.


No horse has won this race back-to-back since Brown Lad in 1975 and 1976, however. The form of Thunder And Roses is a concern, but he has won on two of his last three outings at Fairyhouse.

Sub Lieutenant makes his eighth run of the season in the 2016 Irish Grand National, and Bryan Cooper is one of four jockeys to have been in his saddle throughout this campaign. Lacking a consistent pilot is a concern.

With so many and varying question marks over her major rivals, Bonny Kate is the most advisable outright bet here.

Ruby can Bless The Wings


A lively outsider and tempting each-way wager, meanwhile, is course and distance winner Bless The Wings.

Two-time Irish National winning jockey Ruby Walsh partners this relative 11-year-old veteran with just 10st 7lb in the saddle.

Bless The Wings clearly has the staying power, and his recent placing when third of 16 over a furlong further than the Fairyhouse trip – in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham earlier this month, behind Any Currency and Josie’s Orders – is an indicator of that.


View our horse racing section for more tips and previews.

Coral’s top tip: Bonny Kate brings the best form of those fancied for the Irish Grand National to the table. Bless The Wings is worth an each-way punt if you want to hedge your bets.

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.