Cause Of Causes (left) was a fast-finishing second in the Kim MuirPICTURE: Getty Images
McManus mob-handed in Irish National attempt
JP McMANUS runs six horses in the Boylesports Irish Grand National and bookmakers make the Gordon Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes his best hope of winning the race for the first time since Butler's Cabin won in 2007.
McManus has amassed a vast squad for the €250,000 race with the Jonjo O'Neill-trained duo of Shutthefrontdoor, who will wear the white cap, and Alfie Sherrin (yellow) joined by Charlie Longsdon's Pendra (blue), Colm Murphy's The Westener Boy (orange) and the topweight Cantlow (red).
The Paul Webber-trained nine-year-old Cantlow will be the only horse to carry more than Cause Of Causes, who has finished second on his last three starts including in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival and will be partnered by Mark Walsh in the green and gold quartered cap.
His trainer feels Walsh has a decent chance of returning the sport's most famous silks to the winner's enclosure. "Cause Of Causes been knocking on the door in a lot of big handicaps this year - he was unlucky in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown and again in the Kim Muir," said Elliott.
The 3m1½f of the Kim Muir was the furthest Cause Of Causes has raced over, but Elliott does not feel the additional three and a half furlongs will prove problematic. "It's a big step up in trip but we're hoping with the ground drying out that it will suit him and he'll stay. He's got a good solid each-way chance," he said.
Cause Of Causes is the 12-1 joint-second favourite with the sponsors, though he is available at 14-1, behind Liam Lennon's Cheltenham Festival winner Tammys Hill, while Arthur Moore's Home Farm contests favouritism in some lists.
Liam Glynn of Boylesports reported support of one of the McManus battalion. "It's going to be very hard to predict what goes off favourite let alone win the race but The Westener Boy is the latest horse to see support." He has been cut to 12-1 (from 20) by the firm, but is as big as 16-1 with several other firms.
The rain forecast to hit Fairyhouse overnight is not expected to change the going with the course described as good to yielding after several days of watering and light showers during racing. The track could get up to 6mm before the start of racing on Monday.
Clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan said: "The ground could be slightly slower but I don't think the going description will change."