Robbie Power dissects the Irish Grand National

Robbie Power dissects the Irish Grand National

The Irish Grand National 2022 takes place at 5pm on Monday, April 18. It’s the big race on the third and final day of the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse that will have a lot of fans interested. 

Jockey Robbie Power has won the Irish Grand National before, on Our Duke in 2017 and knows what it takes to win the big races.

Power was speaking on behalf of Irish Grand National sponsor BoyleSports anf gave his thoughts on the racing event

Who do you ride and what are your chances in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National?I ride Time To Get Up for Jonjo O’Neill - he’s a Midland Grand National winner last season, he was third in the race this year, and obviously the trip and ground isn’t going to be an issue with him - so I’d like to think he has a good each-way chance.

Who is the standout runner in the race?

If there’s a horse in it that will blow the field away I think it would just be one, Gaillard Du Mesnil. When you’re looking through the Irish Grand National and what to fancy, novices have a fantastic record in the race and he ticks that box. He was a dual grade one winner over hurdles.

He probably hasn’t hit the heights that he should have done over fences, but he’s been keeping the best of company and I think he’d have to be a strong fancy for the race.

How do you assess Max Flamingo’s chances?

I definitely think he [Max Flamingo] has a chance, he won at the [Fairyhouse Easter] Festival over hurdles - he’s a horse with an awful lot of ability. Sometimes his jumping can let him down but the Caseys’ are very, very shrewd.

Francis and his legendary father Peter were very, very shrewd people and if they’re fancying Max Flamingo then

I’d have to side with him. I think he has a massive each-way chance. He’s got a lovely racing weight on his back and he’d be one I’d definitely be respecting.

Would he be the fairytale result?

I think it would [be the fairytale result] - they’re fantastic people the Caseys’.

They’re sheep farmers and very small in training. Local trainers, it’s amazing how the Irish Grand National can sometimes remain so local and there are a good few local trainers to Fairyhouse in the race - Francis Casey being the top one, and then you have Matthew Smith in there with Ronald Pump, who trains very close as well.

They’re two of the smaller yards that have big fancies in the race.

What would you look for when picking a BoyleSports Irish Grand National Winner?

Course form is very important at any track, but Fairyhouse is a very, very fair track. It’s a fantastic chase track and it takes a lot of jumping - so you need a good jumper around it. But in general, it’s a very fair track and there are very rarely excuses.

Kilkenny , Ireland - 12 March 2021; Jockey Robbie Power. (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

What are your best rides at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival?

I’m looking forward to riding Edison Kent tomorrow [Saturday], first time running over three miles. He’s a big price but I think he’ll have an each-way chance.

He’ll love the ground and his homework has been very good. [I have] some good rides on Sunday, with Bodhisattva - and Say Goodbye in the grade one Mares’ Novice Hurdle.

It’s going to be hard to beat Love Envoi, who was very impressive when she won at the Cheltenham Festival, but they are two rides I’m looking forward to on Sunday.

What does the BoyleSports Irish Grand National mean to Ireland?The Irish Grand National is synonymous with Easter Monday in Fairyhouse and it’s the one race that seems to never, ever change - it’s Easter Monday every year.

It’s the most famous horse race in Ireland and it’s the race that every jockey and trainer wants to win in Ireland.

What is the atmosphere like on BoyleSports Irish Grand National Day?

It is a huge family day out, there are people that go to Fairyhouse on Easter Monday that probably don’t go racing much the rest of the year. It’s a big occasion and the atmosphere is always second to none.

We have that parade in front of the stands - you can really soak in the atmosphere. It’s a fantastic race and it’s great to be part of it.

Where does your BoyleSports Irish Grand National success rank among your career victories? 

It was a fantastic thrill [winning the 2017 Irish Grand National], I got as much of a kick out of winning the Irish Grand National as I did out of any of my winners. Fairyhouse is my local racecourse and I was in Fairyhouse when Desert Orchid won the Irish Grand National as a kid. It was the one race that

I always wanted to win and I hit the crossbar a couple of times, I was second and third in it.

I got beaten on a couple of favourites in it and to finally tick that box was massive and Our Duke was a very, very impressive winner on the day.

How important has BoyleSports sponsorship of the Irish Grand National been for the race?

BoyleSports can probably take credit for actually saving the Grand National - with a big boost in prize-money. It’s a half-a-million euro race now, which is fantastic.

I think the year Our Duke won was the first year it was a half-a-million euro race and it’s just brought the quality of the race right back to where it should be.

It was starting to slip behind a little, with Cheltenham and Punchestown getting more priority, but with BoyleSports sponsorship now, it’s brought the Irish National back to where it should be and you can see now by the ratings of the horses you need to give to it - it’s a high quality race now.What was it like to have the legendary Desert Orchid in town?

Desert Orchid was the one - he was the peoples horse at the time.

Everybody loved Desert Orchid - every time he ran in a race, you tuned into the TV to watch him. And then to find him as a kid, also being ridden by my hero who is Richard Dunwoody, was just a dream.

To be able to go to Fairyhouse on your doorstep and see Desert Orchid do his business in the Irish Grand National was the stuff of dreams for a kid.

How impressed were you with Sam Waley-Cohen’s Grand National success at Aintree?

It [Sam Waley-Cohen’s Grand National success] was a phenomenal achievement and Sam’s record around Aintree over those fences is unbelievable.

It was thoroughly deserved, he’d been second in it before on Oscar Time and he’s won numerous races over those fences, so it was a phenomenal achievement and a fantastic training performance from Emmett Mullins.

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