The Irish Grand National is the headline act of the three-day Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse and it takes place on Easter Monday, which is the middle day of the Easter extravaganza.
The race is run over 3 miles and 5 furlongs and was founded in 1870. The winner picks up the first prize of €270,000 and notable past winners have included equine greats like Fortria, Arkle, Flyingbolt, and Desert Orchid.
Check out our race-trends, analysis, and free tips for the 2019 Irish Grand National.
Irish Grand National Trends
The last 10 winners of the Irish Grand National have been aged between six and 10, and you need to go back to 1997 to find the last 11-year-old that won, whilst the last winning 12-year-old was in 1978.
Another major trend is weights carried by horses. Between 2001 and 2018, only Our Duke has carried more than 10-13, and he probably had around a stone in hand when he won off a mark of 154 carrying 11-4. 15 of the last 18 winners actually carried 10-8 or less, strongly suggesting it is normally a big advantage to carry a light-weight.
Because of that, eight of the last 10 winners have been rated no higher than 139, with the only other winner to be rated higher in the last 10-years being the 142-rated Shutthefrontdoor who carried 10-13.
The last 10 Irish Grand National winners had all had at least three runs in the season they won the race, but many had run more times than that. However, only one winner had won his previous start, though eight had won that season.
The last 10 winners had all run 18 to 64 days prior to their success in the race, but only two winners were returned at single-figure odds. In fact, only four of the last 10 winners were returned at odds lower than 20/1, with the longest-priced winner being 50/1.
No trainer or jockey has won the race twice in the last 10-years, but Gigginstown Stud has owned three of the last four winners.
Irish Grand National 2019 Analysis
It’s always hard to dismiss the chances of horses at the top of a handicap, especially as those horses are usually high-achievers. It’s certainly no different this year, with big-race winning horses like Tout Est Permis, Total Recall, and Shattered Love racing off marks between 154 and 157.
However, the stats suggest that it normally pays to oppose these types in the Irish Grand National. Other horses carrying 11-0 or more also include Dounikos, Jury Duty, Pairofbrowneyes, A Toi Phil, Acapella Bourgeois, Any Second Now, and Monbeg Notorious.
Three of the remaining runners are older than ideal at the ages of 11 or 12 and these are Isleofhopendreams, Forever Gold, and Measureofmydreams. However, all three are respected, with the first two of that trio finishing second and third in the 2018 renewal, whilst the latter was the subject of a failed gamble at the Cheltenham Festival.
Of the 30 horses guaranteed a run, only C’est Jersey and Bellow Mome have had less than three runs, whilst the second reserve Fitzhenry has not run for a longer than ideal 71 days.
As eight of the last 10 winners had won in the same season prior to winning the Irish Grand National, the percentage call is to also exclude Minella Rocco, Blow By Blow, Valseur Lido, Arkwrisht, and first reserve Oscar Knight. Last year’s winner General Principle also hasn’t won, but that was also the case before he won last year’s edition.
As only one of the last 10 winners had won last time out, it could also be worth betting against Snugborough Benny, Burrows Saint, and Scoir Moir. On a mark of 143, Auvergnat also just fails to make the shortlist.
Irish Grand National 2019 Shortlist
Course winner who is owned by Gigginstown Stud, but his best form has come over trips shorter than three miles. Has twice been pulled up when tried at this sort of trip, including in last year’s Irish Grand National.
Won the Cork Grand National over a similar trip earlier this season but has struggled since off an 8lb higher mark. Could go well off a nice low-weight but there’s probably better-handicapped horses in the field.
Davy Russell rides Shattered Love but, as she’s normally Jack Kennedy’s ride, it could be significant that Kennedy rides Gun Digger here. His connections obviously think he has plenty of stamina as he ran in the National Hunt Chase last time over four-miles and two of his three wins have come on right-handed tracks. This is also the first time he’s carried less than 11-0 in his life and he looks thoroughly unexposed.
Another who fell in the National Hunt Chase, but he did go off at a shorter price than Gun Digger. That’s something of a surprise, as he was beaten by 18-lengths by Gun Gigger off level-weights earlier in the season. However, two starts ago, he carried took advantage of his first chance to carry a low-weight to victory in a handicap and he gets a similar scenario here, even if he’s rated 9lb higher.
First and second on two previous starts at Fairyhouse and is another young unexposed Gigginstown-owned runner that gets a chance to carry a light-weight in a handicap for the first time. Gets a 6lb pull for a 4½ length beating by Burrows Saint last time and is respected.
Another that could appreciate a light-weight on his back and this trip could be ideal after looking to not quite stays four-miles last time. However, others have slightly stronger-looking form.
Looks extremely well-handicapped on his defeat of Ballyward and C’est Jersey at Punchestown over 25 furlongs earlier in the season off level-weights. He’s rated just 136 here, yet C’est Jersey is rated 140, whilst Ballyward has since earned a rating of 150. Looks sure to relish the trip and must have a great chance.
Irish Grand National 2019 Verdict
The stats strongly suggest that the bookies may have got it wrong by favouring the horses near the top of the handicap and, with many big-priced winners in the last 10 years, it could be worth backing Gun Digger and Shady Operator each-way.