Gordon Elliott brought the Aintree and Irish Grand National trophies back to Cullentra House Stables last season and, with the 41-year-old expected to have at least ten runners in each race this year, he will be aiming to repeat the trick.
The trainer was speaking at the launch of the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at his County Meath yard on Tuesday morning, where he identified Out Sam, Dounikos and Shattered Love as likely candidates for the €500,000 Fairyhouse event.
He said: “We'll run plenty in it. Out Sam, Dounikos and Shattered Love are three who could go for Fairyhouse rather than Aintree. Shattered Love came out of Cheltenham well and she could have a nice enough weight.”
With two and a half weeks between Aintree and Fairyhouse this season, Elliott is not ruling out the idea of running some horses in both races, but indicated that Tiger Roll’s Fairyhouse entry was more of a back-up plan.
He explained: “We have 32 entries for the Irish Grand National and we'll be splitting our horses up between Fairyhouse and Aintree but some horses could even run in the two, we’ll just have to see.
“Obviously, Tiger Roll goes to Aintree, but if he did tip up over the first couple of fences, we've two and a half weeks between the two races this year so there's every chance he could come back to Fairyhouse. I'd imagine we'll have about ten runners in each race, though.”
Recalling his first memories of the race and finally etching his name on the trophy with General Principle last season, Elliott added: “It's the race every trainer wants to win. Fairyhouse has been one of my local tracks growing up and we were lucky enough to come out the right side of a photo in the race last year.
“My earliest memory of the race was when Maid Of Money won it back in 1989 for John Fowler. I was very young at the time and didn't know anything about horses but I'll never forget the hype that surrounded the place because of it.”
Fairyhouse manager Peter Roe does hype better than most and, along with declaring his delight over the quality of runners the race has attracted, he provided his marketing team with a word of warning.
He joked: “If you look at this race you’d wonder why you're paying the marketing people to sell the race as it sells itself!”
Providing an update on the ground, he added: “The track is in great condition. We’ve had 60 millimetres since the start of March, which was ideal, and I’d love another 60 or 100 millimetres between now and the race.
“Famous last words, but I don’t see us getting heavy ground on the day. We’ll have lovely jumping ground and there’s a great covering of grass there as well.”
Tiger Roll may be Aintree-bound first and foremost but he makes the BoyleSports book at odds of 10-1, along with Ted Walsh’s Cheltenham Festival scorer Any Second Now.
The firm’s Leon Blanche, said: “We are thrilled once again this year to be sponsoring the BoyleSports Irish Grand National and with a pot of €500,000 up for grabs at Fairyhouse, there’s no doubt every trainer will throw the kitchen sink at the race.
“Willie Mullins has finally broken his Cheltenham Gold Cup hoodoo but the Irish Grand National still eludes him, so it’s no surprise to see the likes of recent Bobbyjo winner Rathvinden, Pairofbrowneyes and Isleofhopendreams among his potential candidates this year.
"The latter got to within a head of victory last year so it’ll be fascinating to see if Willie can go one better this time round.”