Irish Grand National

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The Irish Grand National is the Irish equivalent of the Aintree Grand National showpiece and takes place during the 2024 Fairyhouse Easter Festival. The proximity of the two chases in the racing calendar means that no horse has won both races in the same season.

The Irish Grand National takes place on the 1st of April 2024.

Easter Monday features the 2024 BoyleSports Irish Grand National, the richest chase in the Irish calendar and one of the most anticipated dates of the Irish racing calendar.

Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde all won both events while the roll of honour also includes racing legends Arkle and Desert Orchid.

Find out more about the Irish Grand National:

Irish Grand National

The Irish Grand National – Race Overview

The Irish Grand National takes place on Easter Monday at Fairyhouse Racecourse over three miles and five furlongs.

Although it does not have the fearsome obstacles of its Aintree Racecourse counterpart, there are 24 fences to be jumped and a large field ensures an unrelenting gallop.

There had been three winning favourites in six years prior to Freewheelin Dylan’s record-breaking 150-1 success in 2021.

For all Fairyhouse races, our finest racing tipsters give free horse racing tips!

Famous Irish Grand National Winners & History

The Irish Grand National was first run in 1870 with a modest prize of 167 sovereigns. It soon became established as the highlight of the Easter Festival and a significant event for Dubliners on the social calendar.

1904 winner Ascetic’s Silver would go on to win the Aintree Grand National two years later, setting a precedent for many future winners to aim for.

In 1942 the race was won by Prince Regent, trained by Tom Dreaper. The horse would go in to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1946 and finished in the frame under top weight in two Grand Nationals. He would also be the first of a record ten Irish Grand National victories for Dreaper including a remarkable seven in a row between 1960 and 1966. These included racing legends Arkle (1964) and Flyingbolt (1966), the latter defying 12st 7lbs to win easily.

Jim Dreaper took over the training licence from his father in 1970 and soon made his own mark in Irish Grand National history. He trained Brown Lad to win three times in 1975, 1976 and 1978, the only horse to do so. In 1979 Tied Cottage won the race for Dan Moore and Tony Robinson. The horse led all the way to win the 1980 Cheltenham Gold Cup but was controversially disqualified when traces of a banned substance were found in his post-race sample.

Ann Ferris became the first female rider to win the race aboard Bentom Boy in 1984. Her achievement has since been matched by Nina Carberry on Organisedconfusion (2011) and Katie Walsh on Thunder And Roses (2015).

Rhyme ‘n’ Reason won in 1985 and went on to win the 1988 Aintree Grand National.

The high quality of winners was underlined in 1990 when crowds flocked to Fairyhouse to witness Desert Orchid win under 12 stone.

Key Irish Grand National Trials

It is difficult to pinpoint any one trial for the Irish Grand National with recent winners coming from a wide variety of races.

What is clear is that a run within the previous two months is essential, a trait that applies to all but one of the last 18 winners.

Another key factor for your Irish Grand National bets is course form. Around two-thirds of those winners had experience around Fairyhouse.

Many of those had been placed last time but only three had won on their previous outing.

Rather like the Aintree race, trainers plot a route to Fairyhouse with the intention of having the horse at its peak on Easter Monday with a good racing weight.

This race has often provided shock results but none more so than Freewheelin Dylan in 2021. His SP of 150-1 was the longest in the race’s history. His victory also extends the average winning SP beyond 25-1 over the past 18 seasons.

Others to have left most punters scratching their heads include Liberty Counsel (2013) at 50-1. Lion Na Bearnai (2012), Niche Market (2009) and Hear The Echo (2008) all returned at 33-1.

There was some respite for punters with winning favourites Shutthefrontdoor (2014), Our Duke (2017) and Burrows Saint (2019).

Irish Grand National Stats

You certainly want a horse with proven stamina for the Irish Grand National and winning form over three miles or further is a common factor.

It takes a class horse to carry more than 11 stone to victory here. Our Duke (2017) is the only horse to do so since Commanche Court in 2000.

Only three horses over the age of nine have managed to win in the last 22 renewals, the last being Liberty Counsel in 2013. Burrows Saint (2019) ended the Irish Grand National hoodoo for Trainer Willie Mullins after many years of trying. His father Paddy had won the race four times and Willie had been training since 1988.

Irish Grand National Previous Winners

Check out the previous winners to this race:

2013Liberty Counsel1009-05Ben DaltonDot Love
2014Shutthefrontdoor710-13Barry GeraghtyJonjo O’Neill
2015Thunder And Roses710-06Katie Walsh[a]Sandra Hughes
2016Rogue Angel810-06Ger FoxMouse Morris
2017Our Duke711-04Robbie PowerJessica Harrington
2018General Principle910-00James SlevinGordon Elliott
2019Burrows Saint610-08Ruby WalshWillie Mullins
2020no race [b]
2021Freewheelin Dylan910-08Ricky DoyleDermot McLoughlin
2022Lord Lariat709-12PJ O’HanlonDermot McLoughlin
2023I Am Maximus711-01Paul TownendWillie Mullins

Irish Grand National Top Trainers and Jockeys

Tom Dreaper’s astonishing record of ten Irish Grand National winners looks set to remain for many years to come.

This is an incredibly tough race to win and even the powerful stables of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have only managed one winner apiece.

Jonjo O’Neill has masterminded two Irish Grand National victories with Butler’s Cabin (2007) and Shutthefrontdoor (2014) so his entries are always worth noting.

Pat Taaffe holds the record of six Irish Grand National victories as a jockey including those of Arkle and Flyingbolt.

Ruby Walsh rode the winner on three occasions, the last being Burrows Saint in 2019.

Betting on the Irish Grand National

There is a lively ante-post market for the Irish Grand National as soon as the weights are announced.

The entries of the Willie Mullins stable usually attract special interest and he will often enter the same horses for Aintree and Fairyhouse before making a final decision.

With so many long-priced winners it makes sense to wait until “non-runner – no bet terms” are available, especially with enhanced each-way terms.

Summary of The Irish Grand National

The Irish Grand National has often proved to be a minefield for punters but remains a terrific spectacle and one of the highlights of the National Hunt season.

History suggests that you would be best advised to look beyond the market leaders for the winner of this notoriously tricky event.

Find out more on the in-depth list of horse racing fixtures in Ireland.

Here are all the related posts to Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival 2024.