Sunday, February 25, 2024

Best antepost value bets for Fairyhouse on Monday April 10

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Our expert looks ahead to the big betting heat on Easter Monday – the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.


  • The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland.
  • Following all of Matt’s tips to advertised stakes/odds since he took over from Ben Linfoot in June 2020 would have produced over 115pts profit.
  • Last year’s antepost Flat winners included Desert Crown in the Derby at 25/1, while he recently tipped Cheltenham Festival winners Maskada at 25/1 and Stage Star at 11/1.


Despite there being four jumps cards plus three on the Flat in Britain, Easter Monday’s betting is generally all about the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, and in a rare twist this year’s race falls tantalisingly right at the start of Aintree week.

The 30-strong field at Fairyhouse makes for a brilliant spectacle in its own right and having seen the likes of Pat Hughes, Bob Buckler, James Motherway, Tom Gibney, Dot Love and Dermot McLoughlin (twice) enjoy massive days in their training careers here since the turn of the millennium, a race famously won by Fortria, Arkle and Flyingbolt in the 1960s now has the feel of an accessible and eminently winnable contest.

McLoughlin’s father Liam rode both Arkle and Flyingbolt at stages of their careers, and during his early years in the game the County Meath trainer spent some time working for 10-time Irish National-winning handler Jim Dreaper, so he’s evidently familiar with what it takes to prepare one for this day in particular.

After Freewheelin Dylan at 150/1 in 2021 and Lord Lariat at 40/1 12 months ago, a third straight success would be something truly spectacular (Dreaper admittedly won seven in a row) and the returning 2022 hero has evidently been primed for another crack at it.

He won by four and three-quarter lengths from Frontal Assault last April under 7lb claimer Paddy O’Hanlon and is a general 16/1 shot coming back off a 9lb higher mark. His prep run over hurdles at Leopardstown certainly wouldn’t put you off, but the revised rating obviously demands a touch more from the eight-year-old.

Gordon Elliott took Frontal Assault out of the race at Wednesday’s forfeit stage but still has 11 engaged as he looks for a second victory in the race he first won with General Principal under 10st in 2018.

The shortest of Elliott’s gang in the betting is National Hunt Chase runner-up Chemical Energy and he’ll be 8lb better off with Cheltenham winner Gaillard Du Mesnil if the pair turn up here, though the latter looks highly likely to be going to Aintree instead.

Chemical Energy could shorten a bit more in the build-up, then, as he looks made for these marathon trips and has also got experience of winning (albeit over hurdles) around Fairyhouse which is a big plus, but the same can be said of stablemate DEFI BLEU as well and, as a largely unconsidered 33/1 shot at this point, I’m of the opinion he could run a massive race.

Granted, Defi Bleu hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations I once held for him, having been sweet on him heading into the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. He finished third in the Martin Pipe that year and clearly didn’t disgrace himself, but he’s been very hit-and-miss subsequently.

On his best behaviour he remains a very capable horse, though, and having stayed on strongly from a prominent position throughout in the extended three-mile handicap chase run 40 minutes after the Irish National at last year’s meeting, one suspects Elliott has been targeting the big one ever since.

It’s been a mixed bag for the now 10-year-old so far this season, without a win from seven outings, but he finished second in the Cork Grand National in November, third in Punchestown’s Grand National Trial last month, and again performed well back at Cheltenham last week, ending up fifth behind some extremely well-handicapped horses after jumping as well as he has done for a long time in the Kim Muir.

He’s officially a couple of pounds wrong for this having been dropped but his strong placed efforts earlier in the campaign came from this perch and while he’s seemingly got a bit to find with stablemate Dunboyne on a strict reading of their Cheltenham form, that one’s stamina has to be in question, and I reckon Defi Bleu is much more a Fairyhouse horse regardless.

Clearly a proper Jekyll and Hyde type, I’ll have a small dart win-only at this stage as the layers are bound to be more generous with their place terms after the final declarations are made.

Published at 1600 GMT on 25/03/23

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