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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

O'Neill thrilled with Shutthefrontdoor ahead of Irish National bid

Shutthefrontdoor and Barry Geraghty return in triumph after the 2014 Irish National
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Jonjo O'Neill is delighted with his 2014 Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor as he prepares the ten-year-old for a repeat bid in the BoyleSports-sponsored contest on Monday.

Shutthefrontdoor hasn't run since being pulled up at Cheltenham in January, but O'Neill reports the chaser to be in great form.

The trainer said: "I'm thrilled to bits with him as he's in great form. He wants good ground and didn't like the conditions at Cheltenham. He was very stiff and sore after that race but he's come back to himself now.

"We also have Another Hero in the race, but I don't think he'll get in and he'll probably be rerouted to the Scottish National instead."

O'Neill also had news of More Of That, who was pulled up in the Randox Health Grand National on Saturday.

He said: "He jumped great at Aintree and had a lovely position going out on the second circuit but he just ran out of steam. Maybe it was the trip and maybe his wind was catching him out a bit. He just didn't perform as well as he can."

Rachael Blackmore, who is leading the Irish claiming riders championship, is eagerly looking forward to her first Irish National ride on Abolitionist.

Abolitionist and Rachael Blackmore after jumping the last to win the Leinster National

Blackmore has ridden 29 winners this season and will bid to be the fourth female rider to land the Irish National following Ann Ferris, Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, all of whom won the event as amateurs.

Blackmore said: "Abolitionist is a great ride for me and I'm hopeful he'll run a big race. The ground will be nicer than when he won at Naas and the trip should be fine for him.

He's a good jumper and he's been going very well at home. I wouldn't swap him for any other horse in the race and he'll represent us very well."

Peter Roe, manager of Fairyhouse, said on Thursday: "The ground is good, good to yielding in places. We did some watering yesterday and again today to maintain conditions and to make sure there will be absolutely no sting in the ground. We have a good covering of grass and fresh ground.

"The forecast for the next few days is likely to be overcast and there is just a chance of the odd shower. We're not expecting any significant rain." 

He was very stiff and sore after that race but he's come back to himself now
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