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John Duggan's Irish Grand Nati...
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John Duggan's Irish Grand National Preview and Tips

John Duggan feels that the Paul Nolan trained novice Latest Exhibition holds leading claims in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday.

Fairyhouse has staged the Irish Grand National since 1870, when a horse called Sir Robert Peel won the inaugural running.

The race has been a staple of Irish life; and 105 years ago, the story was that a lot of the British Army officer class were at the race while the Easter Rising was ongoing at the GPO.

The famous race has a status and always sees the appearance of the Taoiseach, although that won't be the case this year with the race behind closed doors.

One of the saving graces of racing without crowds is that the races themselves look just as good on the screen, but hopefully next year we'll be able to see the action up close at the course.

It's a 5pm post time for the Irish Grand National and there are 24 fences and 3 miles and 5 furlongs to be negotiated.

I feel that the class horse of the race is Latest Exhibition.

Trained in Wexford by Paul Nolan, the novice has run into Monkfish three times over the last 13 months, losing by a whisker in the 2020 Albert Bartlett novices hurdle - and then finishing as a runner up to Monkfish twice in chases this season.

Latest Exhibition wouldn't be out of place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next year, which can't be said for a lot of these handicappers. The further he goes, the better he gets. I think he is tailor made for this race.

Of course, Latest Exhibition holds top weight of 11 stone 10 pounds, but for me he can emulate Our Duke, who trounced the field to win the Irish Grand National - also as a seven year novice - back in 2017.

If big race jockey Bryan Cooper can keep Latest Exhibition out of trouble and get him jumping, then the favourite's class can tell.

Of the outsiders, I liked two - Discordantly and Opposites Attract.

I feel that the Jessica Harrington trained Discordantly will improve for the better ground he will encounter at Fairyhouse.

Jockey Robbie Power knows the time of day and one of Discordantly's previous runs at Punchestown on New Year's Eve in 2019 caught my eye. The extra distance could suit and at seven years of age, improvement may be possible for him to reach the frame.

Opposites Attract was a close third behind Latest Exhibition at Punchestown back in October. I am wondering if he needs better ground, which he encountered in his point to point when he ran well behind Monkfish. Off a light weight of 10 stone 6, he could have an each way shout for trainer Dermot McLoughlin and jockey Conor Maxwell.

Having checked the odds comparison websites, if I was spending €10 on the Irish Grand National, I would do the following: 

€3 each way on Latest Exhibition at 11/2 (1/4 the odds the first five places)

€1 each way on Discordantly at 33/1 (1/5 the odds the first six places)

€1 each way on Opposites Attract at 33/1 (1/5 the odds the first seven places)

Good luck with your pick and please gamble responsibly!

Never gamble more than you can afford.

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