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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Gigginstown switch caps five hours before the big race

Gigginstown: 14 maroon machines line up in Monday's BoyleSports Irish Grand National
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It's a case of 'hats off', or maybe 'caps off', to experienced commentators Dessie Scahill and our very own Tony O'Hehir!

For they have the toughest task of the day and, arguably the most arduous task of their entire careers, as they try to figure out which Gigginstown runner is which in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National. 

And, to make matters worse, just a few hours before the big race, Gigginstown have announced that Lord Scoundrel and Clarcam will switch caps. Lord Scoundrel will now wear a blue cap, with Clarcam wearing the white cap.

The move could be significant as Gigginstown consider the blue cap to be lucky after Rule The World won last year's Grand National and Rogue Angel landed last season's Irish National in that headgear.

Gigginstown will have more caps than Sammy Lee, Ray Parlour or Peter Reid gained for England as they have 14 chances of landing Ireland's richest jumps race. 

Knowing you had to describe such a race to hundreds of thousands of viewers would be enough to cause insomnia for most of us, but Scahill said on Sunday he would not be losing any sleep.

Indeed, he claims he will not even contemplate the magnitude of his task until a couple of hours before the race. Now that's what you call a cool customer.

"I won't even think about the Gigginstown caps until tomorrow," said Scahill, whose voice will be heard on-course and by At The Races viewers.

"They could change by then from what we're expecting today, and if you started learning them before tomorrow you could get yourself into a right muddle. But I will say I'll be glad when the race is over."

O'Hehir, who will be in front of the microphone for RTE, has almost been here before, and said on Sunday that he remembers teasing another set of connections about their policy of having multiple runners in valuable handicaps.

"I used to tease Frank Berry when JP [McManus] was running six or eight in a big handicap, but there's never been anything like this," he said.

"It will be a crash course of learning once all the different caps are confirmed on the day, and hopefully the commentary will go smoothly. I won't be shedding any tears if a couple of them don't jump off!"

It will be a crash course of learning once all the different caps are confirmed and, hopefully, the commentary will go smoothly
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