Horse Racing tips: Ruby Walsh’s best antepost bets for the Irish Grand National

Ruby casts his eye over Easter Monday's Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse

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*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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Ruby Walsh has given his expert opinion on upcoming renewal of the Irish Grand National – a race he won three times before hanging up his helmet.

With last year’s contest falling foul of COVID-19, the Paddy Power ambassador is actually the last jockey to win the 3m5f steeplechase following his triumph aboard Burrows Saint in 2019 – so who better to tip up the next victor?

Speaking on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby ran through Willie Mullins’ top contenders but looked elsewhere for his antepost selection.

Agusta Gold will probably be the best of the Willie Mullins’ string, and she will have a nice racing weight – providing Tiger Roll runs. If he comes out, Galvin would become top weight and that means a rise of 9lbs or 10lbs for Agusta Gold. If you put 10lbs on to Agusta Gold’s 10st6lbs, that brings her up to 11st2lbs and it becomes a completely different race.

So as well as Tiger Roll influencing the betting, his participation influences the make up of the race. So many horses, like Agusta Gold with 10st6lbs, Coko Beach with 10st10lbs and Run Wild Fred with 10st, are chucked in here if Tiger Roll runs. But if Tiger Roll comes out and you put 10lbs more on each of their backs, you’re looking below them all again.

Brahma Bull will have to jump better than he did in the Thyestes, when he was pulled up. Cabaret Queen ran in the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham but got hopelessly outpaced and pulled up. Dragon D’Estruval tailed off in a point-to-point on his last start and has to improve incredibly on that. Lord Royal travelled well for a long way in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham but cut out. Salsaretta was in the Mares’ Chase but finished fourth. You would have said Saturnas had a great chance if he hadn’t run at Naas last time out, but he did run in the Leinster National and that was a pretty poor effort – maybe dry ground will help him though. And the last time Robin De Carlow ran she beat Put The Kettle On, but that was 18 months ago. It’s good form, but off that sort of a lay-off… that’ll be one hell of a training performance if she wins a race like this.

When you look through Willie’s list, Agusta Gold would be the one. She’s having her first run for Willie, having previously been trained by Mags Mullins, and had a good win in a mares’ chase at Fairyhouse in January then ran okay in a hurdle race at Navan after that when she was fourth behind Damalisque. She’s obviously a better chaser than she is a hurdler, but can she improve further? Time will tell.

Agusta Gold Danny Mullins Punchestown February 18, 2020

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School Boy Hours maybe catches the eye out of the JP McManus runners. I think the rest are fairly exposed, with Scoir Mear an 11-year-old and Fitzhenry placed in the Paddy Power a couple of years ago. It’s been quite a while since the latter has managed to win a race – February 25, 2018 I think – so nothing is really jumping off the page.

Maybe Off You Go has a chance, stepping right up in trip. He won over 2½m on his last start and going an extra mile could suit him, while he is a dual winner of the big handicap hurdle at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival. However, there are other horses I prefer.

I really fancy Espanito Bello, and he’s the one for me. When he ran into Coko Beach in Navan in February, Coko Beach had the run in the Thyestes and was the fitter horse while Espanito Bello made a mistake at the last which cost him the race. He had beaten Coko Beach prior to that in a beginners’ chase at Naas. He was fourth behind Janidil on his second start and was seventh behind Latest Exhibition on his first start.

If you even go back to his hurdle runs, he was second to Court Maid last March and all his recent form is quite strong. I was taken by him at Navan, Barry Connell’s horses are starting to come back into form and with 10st10lbs on his back, the seven-year-old is my tip against the field. 

*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

Ruby Walsh’s Irish Grand National antepost tip

Espanito Bello

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