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Local money for Irish hopes in Aintree feature

John Smith’s Grand NationalThere appears to be growing support in the Emerald Isle for Irish contenders Chicago Grey and Seabass in the forthcoming John Smith’s Grand National, with the odds for both horses to triumph at Aintree in ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’ being slashed in recent weeks, writes Elliot Slater.

The Aintree marathon is a horse betting bonanza and plenty of punters are beginning to put their money behind the Irish duo. Some bookmarkers have both horses in to 11/1 (from 14/1), and is much shorter than most market competitors (who go 14/1 the pair) after good money was seen with for both of the leading hopes for an Irish victory in the race that hasn’t been won by one of their countrymen since Silver Birch at 33/1 produced a surprise success for trainer Gordon Elliot in 2007.

Elliott trains Chicago Grey, and reports from his yard have been increasingly positive about the wellbeing of the horse who has been trained all season with just the Grand National in mind. With underfoot conditions likely to be ideal for the out-and-out stayer, it seems that there is gathering momentum behind the horse who won last season’s four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival beating the subsequent Scottish Grand National winner Beshabar in a thrilling finish. The nine-year-old ran a creditable second to Rubi Light in Grade 2 company last time out over an inadequate two-and-a-half-miles, and missed intentionally missed Cheltenham last month with a view to being as fresh as possible for the Aintree marathon.

Seabass has been one of the big stories in Ireland this season, Ted Walsh’s gelding having risen rapidly through the ranks and officially improved more than 40lbs as he has taken his winning sequence to a highly impressive seven victories, most recently beating Zaarito to land the Grade 2 paddypower.com Chase at Naas in February to follow up his previous impressive effort in winning the Leopardstown Handicap Chase by nearly eight-lengths under Katie Walsh.


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