Meade star aiming to land Limerick feature ahead of potential Irish Grand National attempt

Martin Brassil hopeful of more Aintree glory with Longhouse Poet

Limerick has this weekend’s National Hunt action to itself, and Sunday’s Grade 3 feature could provide an ideal stepping stone towards potential Irish Grand National glory for Thedevilscoachman.

Noel Meade’s runner has been supported into as low as 10-1 favourite for Fairyhouse’s Easter Monday feature but first takes his chance in the Way To Paris McMahon Memorial Chase.

High class over flights, with a Boyne Hurdle victory to his credit last season, Thedevilscoachman got awarded a Grade 3 at Naas on his last start when Ramillies got thrown out by the stewards. If it was a justifiable call in the circumstances, it does mean he has to concede a penalty here, and based on Galway form earlier this season that won’t be an easy task against Grandero Bello.

Crucial to Thedevilscoachman’s chance, however, are the forecast very testing ground conditions which might prove problematic for some of his rivals but will be grist to his mill.


Sunday’s other black-type contest at Limerick also sees The Yellow Clay having to concede a penalty in the Listed McManus Champion Bumper. Ground conditions will be very different from his winning debut at Leopardstown earlier this month, but Gordon Elliott’s runner impressed on that occasion and looks to have a promising future.

Martin Brassil, who endured a frustrating Cheltenham festival with a pair of runner-up placings, will hope for better fortune when the course winner Walk With Paul lines up for a competitive looking mares hurdle.

The Curragh trainer’s big race focus, however, is trying to win the Aintree Grand National again with Longhouse Poet. Successful in the world’s most famous steeplechase with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, Brassil saddled Longhouse Poet to finish sixth behind Noble Yeats in last year’s renewal.

However, a victory at Down Royal last week looks to have set the horse up perfectly for a return to Liverpool. “He came out of the race great and we are really looking forward to Aintree with him,” Brassil reported on Friday.

“He just did a bit too much in the race last year. He over-raced a bit. It was his first time there and he was very exuberant. He is such a good jumper, he was making ground over the fences and Darragh (O’Keeffe) was inclined to let him enjoy it. He needed to have a little quiet time at some stage in the race, to slot in behind a few. He did all the donkey work, really.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column