THE Irish Grand National is upon us – and it promises to be a belter.
Here, Steve Mullen – Templegate to you and me – takes us through every horse with his unbeatable runner-by-runner guide.
He goes through the pros and cons for each horse and gives them a rating out of five.
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At the bottom is our top tipster's verdict.
LATEST EXHIBITION 4
LATE great. Second to superstar Monkfish in Grade 1s on past two runs so this is a drop in class. Shapes like a stayer but hasn’t run beyond three miles before. Has a lot of weight but still improving and can go close.
COURT MAID 3
MAID of honour. Cracking third in Cheltenham Grade 3 last time out in December and won a marathon here before that. Guaranteed to stay and that track form is important. Needs to improve again but solid each-way claims.
ESCARIA TEN 5
TEN out of ten. Close third to Galvin in the NH Chase at Cheltenham last time on just his fourth chase run. Looks a real stayer and there should be lots of improvement to come. Can defy his big weight and figure in the finish.
BRAHMA BULL 2
RAGING Bull. Pulled up behind Gold Cup winner Minella Indo last time and unseated before that. Respected coming from Willie Mullins but has a lot of weight considering his recent form.
COKO BEACH 4
COKO cracker. Improver who landed a Grade 2 ahead of Espanito Bello last time after taking a hot Gowran handicap. Has lots of stamina and will be up with the pace so should stay out of trouble. Rider’s 7lb claim could make the difference.
MOR needed. Struggling to finish lately and still looks very high in the weights. Best form has come around 2m4f.
HOME BY THE LEE 3
LEE whizz. Enjoyed dropping to 2m4f when winning easily at Navan last time. Only young and capable of better if getting home over this longer trip.
OFF YOU GO 3
GO for it. Personal best to win in big field at Leopardstown over 2m5f last time. Not tried anything like this far before and needs to improve again but could well do so.
SAD Salsa. Prolific in small fields last season and solid fourth at Cheltenham last time. Stays well but needs to raise her game at this level.
ESPANITO BELLO 3
SHOUT Bello. Might have beaten Coko Beach at Navan last time but for pecking at the last fence. Shapes like an improving stayer and could go close if jumping better this time.
AGUSTA GOLD 4
GOLD run. Beaten a neck in Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February and two good runs since, including over hurdles last time. She stays well and looks the clear pick of the Mullins team so she’s one for the shortlist.
SNUGSBOROUGH BENNY 3
BENNY thrill. Beaten just four lengths in the Galway Plate in July and rusty on first run since then at Thurles 25 days ago. Will be much fitter for that and was fourth in this two years ago from this mark. One of the better outsiders.
THE BIG DOG 4
BIG say. Battled hard to win the Grand National Trial in the mud at Punchestown. Has gone up 9lb for that but is a proper stayer and should be on the premises again. Could do with a bit more rain.
MOY may. Decent fifth at Cheltenham Festival last time and close third in Punchestown Grand National Trial before that. Stays well and on fair weight with rider’s 5lb claim enhancing her place claims.
SCOIR MEAR 3
MEAR needed. Back to best when winning Leinster National in the mud at Navan 22 days ago after solid fifth in hot race at Leoparstown. Stays well but would ideally like the ground on the heavy side.
ENJOY D’ALLEN 2
DILLY D’Allen. Did well stepped up to 3m2f when second at Navan but this is stronger opposition. Looks certain to stay but probably just playing for a place.
DISCO ball. Finished well over 3m1f in the Ultima at Cheltenham to end a run of poor efforts. From top team so is respected and coming down the weights so could run into the places.
DRAGON D’ESTRUVAL 1
DRAGON grounded. Beaten in a hunter chase on debut for Willie Mullins after leaving Nicky Henderson. Stays well but looks short of this level.
BACK number. Last won a novice chase in 2018 and made mistakes at Ascot last time. Has ability but jumping a concern.
RUN WILD FRED 3
WILD child. Good second to Coko Beach at Gowran last time and stays really well. Yet to score over fences but was a Grade 3-winning hurdler and has more to offer from what looks a fair weight.
SOLID Sempo. Has been well backed and shapes as though staying will he his game. Solid second at Navan over 2m last time and has a nice weight from canny connections. Needs more but could find it.
TEN TEN 2
TEN when. Good second to Scoir Mear in Leinster National but was pushed to limit by 3m3f trip there. Looks on fair weight but best form has come over shorter trips.
ROBIN DE CARLOW 3
ROBIN de bookies. Won a Grade 3 over 2m4f last time and shapes like further will suit. Has a decent weight and Rachael Blackmore in the saddle. Needs to improve but could easily outrun her odds.
ATLANTIC SHORE 1
NOT Shore. Ended winning run with modest run at Navan last time after being upped in weights. Best form has come in the mud and he has a little to prove now.
BRACE YOURSELF 3
BRACE for impact. Fair second here last time over 3m3f on the back of a Grade 2 third at Punchestown. Goes on any ground and stays well so could sneak into the places if improving again.
FITZ bill. Finished with a rattle to get third in Leinster National behind Scoir Mear. Clearly stays and could figure if not getting too far behind.
FREEWHEELIN DYLAN 1
DESPERATE Dan. Won at Kilbeggan in the summer but has struggled all starts since and needs massive improvement.
ROARING BULL 1
BEWARE Bull. Beaten a distance on past four runs and looks a shadow of the horse that won the 2019 Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown.
TOP MOON 3
TOP chance. Good runs at Leopardstown and Thurles heading here and saw out 2m6f well last time. Clearly still improving at six and chance if taking to this longer trip.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT 2
OPP flop. Showed some promise in a small field at Wexford last time when staying nicely. Has a lot more on his plate today so needs more.
VERDICT: ESCARIA TEN
Ran a belting race behind Galvin in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last time. He is having just his fifth run over fences today and can improve enough to take this prize.
Coko Beach is another on the upgrade and has capable 7lb claimer Jordan Gainford on board after winning a Navan Grade 2 last time. Latest Exhibition has top weight but can run into the frame now he doesn’t have Monkfish to worry about.
Agusta Gold looks the best of the Willie Mullins team and warmed up for this over hurdles last time.
The Big Dog and Discordantly are others in with a shout of making the frame.
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