Mark Walsh booked for Irish National ride on festival runner-up Mall Dini
Mall Dini, who went within half a length of giving trainer Pat Kelly a fourth Cheltenham Festival victory when runner-up in the Kim Muir Chase this month, is set to bid for a first win over fences in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday.
The eight-year-old is a 12-1 chance with the sponsors for Ireland’s most valuable steeplechase and Kelly has booked Mark Walsh to ride.
Kelly said on Thursday: “Mark has ridden Mall Dini a few times and knows him. The horse is in good form and, while he’d prefer better ground than we look like having, we’re looking forward to running him.
“He wore blinkers for the first time in the Kim Muir and he worked without them on Wednesday. I’m going to talk to Patrick Mullins who rode him at Cheltenham before deciding whether we’ll use them again on Monday.”
Mall Dini, who won the Pertemps Hurdle Final on good ground at the festival in 2016, has finished in the first three on six of his ten races over fences, will race off a rating of 143 which is 7lb lower than his revised mark which followed his recent Cheltenham effort.
Noel Meade, who is one of only two trainers likely to be involved in Monday’s big race to have trained an Irish National winner, has four left in the race. He said on Thursday: “A Genie In Abottle won’t be running. There’s a chance he might go for the Randox Health Grand National.
“We’re siding towards running Snow Falcon in Monday’s race rather than in the Ryanair Gold Cup on Sunday. That could change but that’s the way we’re thinking. Moulin A Vent will run but we might keep Bonny Kate for the Grade 3 John & Chich Fowler Memorial Mares Chase on Tuesday.
The final declaration stage for the Irish Grand National, which carries a first prize of €270,000, is Friday morning. There will be three reserves for the race which has a maximum field of 30 runners.
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