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Fairyhouse: Culloty’s Grand National raider primed for big run

| 20.02.2015

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winning jockey Jim Culloty pleasantly surprised the racing world with a fine training performance to take Prestbury Park’s biggest prize with Lord Windermere last March, and the Kerry handler is out to complete the double again this spring.

Spring Heeled, last year’s winner of the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, is co-third favourite of six at a top price of 25/1 with Ladbrokes for the greatest steeplechase show on earth, despite not being seen on a racecourse since the end of July.

Culloty’s charge looks to have landed a handy weight, as seven of the past 11 Grand National winners have carried between 10-06 and 11-0 to victory. Spring Heeled is currently set to be lumbered with 10-12, although he’ll probably pick up a pound or two.

Only two of the past 10 Grand National winners went into the race having claimed victory in their previous run, and Spring Heeled may not see any more action between Fairyhouse on Saturday and Aintree’s spectacular.

That being said, the son of Old Vic looks the standout contender in the Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase at 14.05, with Gordon Elliot’s Roi De Mee giving the rest of the five-runner field 7lbs.

In the previous race at 13.35, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh look to have dropped a big hint as to where the money should be going.

Dogora is Walsh’s only booked ride at the Ratoath track, and Mullins has just one more going all day in County Meath in likely bumper favourite An Dearg Mor, under the trainer’s son Patrick.

A double for the Cheltenham expert seems very much on the cards, but be warned before backing the latter for March’s Champion Bumper, should he get a quote after winning on debut.

As stated on these pages not too long ago, none of the past three Champion Bumper winners were seen on a racetrack later than six weeks before the Festival.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune