Horse Racing tips: Frank Hickey’s best antepost bets for the Irish Grand National

Frank marks your card for Easter Monday's Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse



*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules

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Frank Hickey has taken a closer look at the Irish Grand National ahead of the Easter Fairyhouse Festival.

Our expert trader has rated all the top contenders’ chances while discussing the race with Paddy Power ambassador Ruby Walsh on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast.

The market for the 3m5f steeplechase, which was not run last year due to COVID-19, is currently headed by the legendary Tiger Roll but it remains to be seen if the two-time Aintree hero will take his place in this contest at Friday’s declaration stage but another challenger has caught Frank’s eye.

If Tiger Roll does run, I think he will go off favourite. He runs off 163 and Jordan Gainford would take 7lbs off. Therefore I think he could go off around the 9/2 favourite mark.

With Galvin and Escaria Ten, I’m not sure they will run but I would prefer Escaria Ten of the two. The National Hunt Chase developed into a sprint and that suited Galvin far more. Escaria Ten gets 3lbs off him now and in a race that will be more of a stamina test, it will suit Escaria Ten more.

The Thyestes Chase winners at Gowran Park have a good record in the Irish Grand National, so that would suggest Coko Beach has a chance. He was impressive in the Thyestes off a rating of 138 but may have been a little fortunate to win the Grade 2 Ten Up Novices Chase at Navan when Espanito Belle made a bad mistake at the last and lost all momentum. He is now off a mark of 150 and I’m not sure he is hiding too much from the handicapper. He gave Run Wild Fred 2lbs when beating him by 4l in the Thyestes and now has to give him 6lbs.

Latest Exhibition would carry 11st if Tiger Roll runs, and that would be a lovely racing weight. He is the class novice in the field but now that Envoi Allen is bypassing the Grade 1 Novice Gold Cup on Sunday, Latest Exihibtion will probably go down that route instead.




Home By The Lee won a weak Grade 3 at Cork back in November over 2m 4f while The Shunter was fourth and Heaven Help Us was seventh, but I’m not sure those two were primed for that race. He was only 8/1 for the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas at Leopardstown but he bled and was pulled up. He did then win nicely at Naas off 139 but that was only a seven-runner race and the pace collapsed a bit so he took advantage of it, having been held up. He has gone up 10lbs to a mark of 149 and that could be too much of a rise now, back in a stronger race. Joseph O’ Brien’s form is also a little bit of a worry, as at the time of recording he has had 40 runners over jumps and on the flat in the last two weeks and has had no winners.

Sempo is the big mover in the market and is now into 7/1 joint-favourite, with a mark of 139 looking workable. He has not gone beyond 2m 5f this season and the last two runs have been over 2m, which might have helped sharpen up his jumping – he had unseated in two of his first three chase starts. He will have to jump better than previously, but if he does he definitely comes into contention. Again, Joseph O’Brien’s form is a little bit of a concern.

Longhouse Poet will carry 10st 3lbs if Tiger Roll runs, and even if Tiger Roll doesn’t run he will carry around 11st which is a lovely racing weight. He won his only point-to-point on yielding ground, beating a useful horse called Do Wanna Know, then beat Monkfish and Politesse in his only bumper start at Punchestown – that was on good to yielding ground.

The Martin Brassil-trained seven-year-old beat Column Of Fire in his maiden hurdle at Navan, and was third in two Grade 1 hurdles over 2m4f at Naas (7l behind Envoi Allen) and 2m 6f at Leopardstown (2¼l behind Latest Exhibition). He was a poor eighth in the 2020 Ballymore Hurdle but is slowly getting the hang of chasing.

Longhouse Poet Mark Walsh Punchestown December 31, 2020

Grand National 2021 runners, entries and latest betting for Aintree

He was disappointing first time out at Punchestown when well behind Latest Exhibition over 2m 6f, before coming second to Janidil at Naas over 2m 3f and then third behind Espanito Bello over the same course and distance. He improved for stepping up to 3m 1f at Punchestown when winning well with Run Wild Fred second, The Big Dog third, and Mr Hendriks pulled up. I liked the way he stuck to his task overcoming a mistake at the last to pick up again on the run in.

The form has worked out.

Run Wild Fred was second in the Thyestes off 136 on his next start and has now gone up to 144, The Big Dog won the National Trial off 136 on his next start and has gone up to 145 and Mr Hendricks won a beginners’ chase on his next start.

Longhouse Poet side-stepped Cheltenham for this and looks to be one of, if not the best handicapped horses in the field. Brassil won this with Numbersixvalverde and I really like Longhouse Poet’s chance.

I backed him last week and if he can get into a decent position and early rhythm, then he has to be one that will be involved in the finish in a race where Paddy is paying 5 places in the ante-post market.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules

Frank Hickey’s Irish Grand National antepost tip

Longhouse Poet

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