Irish trainer Peter Fahey is looking forward to running Owega Star in the £1-million Crabbie’s Grand National, run over four miles, three furlongs and 110 yards and 30 fences at Aintree on Saturday, April 11.
Weights were revealed for the world’s greatest chase at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden on Tuesday, February 17, with Owega Star allotted 10st 3lb.
The eight-year-old has run some good races in defeat so far this year, including on his latest appearance when fifth of 26 under 11st 3lb in the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown on December 27. He had previously been the runner-up in the competitive Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan on November 23, going down by a length and three quarters after being badly hampered in the early stages of the race.
Fahey, who trains at Monasterevin in County Kildare, reported: “It is definitely the plan to go for the Crabbie’s Grand National with Owega Star.
“He has been running very well this season and the Crabbie’s Grand National has been his long-term aim from the start. We are hopeful that he can run a good race at Aintree, although of course you always need loads of luck in running in the National. Touch wood though, he has always been a good jumper.
“When Davy (Russell) rode him last time out at Leopardstown, he said the ground was plenty soft enough for him and I think he is a better horse on better ground.
“He will hopefully have a run at Naas on March 8 before Aintree. What race he goes for at Naas will depend on the ground – if it is heavy, he will run over hurdles or if it is better ground he could go for the Leinster National. He will definitely have one run before the National.
“We know he stays really well, and while of course you never know a horse will stay in the National until you try, we would be as confident as we can be that he can get the trip.”
A total of 24 horses trained in Ireland have won the Crabbie’s Grand National, beginning with Matthew in 1847. There have been six Irish-trained winners since 1999, with Silver Birch the latest in 2007.
Weights for the Crabbie’s Grand National, which has 94 entries going forward, are jointly-headed on 11st 10lb by last year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere (Jim Culloty IRE) and recent Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winnerCarlingford Lough (John Kiely IRE).
The clear 10/1 favourite with Betfred, official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National Festival, is Shutthefrontdoor (Jonjo O’Neill, 11st 2lb), last season’s Irish Grand National victor.
Seven of the first eight home in the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National are entered once again, headed by the victorious Pineau De Re (Dr Richard Newland, 11st).
The Crabbie’s Grand National Festival commences on Thursday, April 9, Grand Opening Day and continues with Ladies Day on Friday, April 10 before culminating on Saturday, April 11, Grand National Day.