|The Irish connection at the Grand National|
Of late the Irish have hit a purple patch in the Grand National with six winners between 1999 and 2007 and while Irish jockeys and Irish-bred horses have enjoyed considerable success in the race - overall they have had just 24 winners trained in their homeland and those looking for Grand National 2011 tips shouldn't rule them out.
Matthew became the first winner for the Irish in 1847, seeing off 26 rivals and one of their most notable winners was Abd-El-Kadar who landed the race in consecutive years becoming the first dual winner of the National in 1850 and 1851. There were a further six Irish winners before the 1900 and they recorded their first victory in the 20th century in 1900 when Algy Anthony not only trained but also rode the winner for no less an owner than the Prince Of Wales, later to become King Edward VII. 20 years later Anthony got the Irish on the board again training Troytown to win at 6/1 – they then hit a barren spell that was only broken by the victory of Workman in 1939.
Post WW2 saw the Vincent O'Brien inspired treble of winners between 1953 and 1955 when the legendary trainer took the race with three different horses. Mr What in 1958 provided the Irish with their last winners until 1975. In that year L'Escargot became only the second horse to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National double although he didn't manage to achieve that feat in the same year as Golden Miller did.
Having ridden L'Escargot, Tommy Carberry provided the Irish with their next winner when he trained Bobbyjo ridden by son Paul to win the 1999 version of that race and it was that year that provided the catalyst for an Irish charge in the race and some of those looking at the Grand National racing betting landed a great gamble that year.
Papillon in 2000 was another father and son combination for the Emerald Isle with the Walsh's – Ted and Ruby – teaming up. Like Papillion, Monty's Pass landed another gamble in 2003 when adding to the Irish tally. They then really let rip by dominating the race between 2005 -2007, Hedgehunter in 2005 becoming the first winner for 22 years to crack the 11 stone weight barrier.
Since Silver Birch scored in the 2007 race the Irish have not had a winner but only Comply Or Die held them off in 2008, as they finished 2-3-4, eighth and ninth was the best they could do in 2009, a rare poor year and Black Apalachi regained some pride for the Irish team last year when he followed Don't Push It home.
With the Irish team once again looking strong this year, they look all set to continue their excellent performances in the Aintree spectacular.