Barrow can make a point in National

PAT HUGHES could leave a horrendous couple of months behind by saddling Point Barrow to land a typically wide open Powers' Whiskey Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse this afternoon.

Hughes' horses have been so out of sorts he has hardly had runners not to mind winners.

But there have been minor indications of late, however, he may be about to emerge from the doldrums and where better to start than with this massive prize.

The selection, a tough resolute sort at his best, has shown only a little through the campaign and, as a result, has been steadily dropping down the weights.

His latest effort, though, was a strong pointer he should not be easily dismissed.

The eight-year-old ran over flights at Navan last month, almost a traditional preparation now for Nationals, and was noted doing all his best work at the end when sixth behind Aghacashel Angel.

Our Ben, with only four races over fences under his belt, carries top weight. Things haven't really gone his way so far, but he remains a real talent.

Travelling right-handed now, over and an extreme distance and on decent ground, could easily see him produce a career-best performance.

I will be shocked if Dun Doire isn't a far bigger price today, compared to what was on offer on the lead-up to the contest.

He has now won six in-a-row, including the Thyestes at Gowran Park and at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest appearance.

But Dun Doire has gone up a total of 56lbs since the start of the season, 22lbs for his latest two successes, and has to be finally in the grip of the handicapper!

There are literally buckets of others who can be given a chance, but I am happy enough to row in with Point Barrow, who should at least run a big race, granted luck through the contest.

Stoneville gets the nap in the Racing Post In Ireland Hurdle. This progressive sort appeared to be crying out for three miles when third to Merdeka and Back To Bid over two and a half at Naas in February.

Willie Mullins' Major Vernon is a confident choice in the Avon Ri Corporate and Leisure Novice Chase.

He comes here a very fresh horse and can be forgiven his poor effort behind The Railway Man at Leopardstown last time, having made a near-disastrous blunder seven from home.

Arthur Moore's Tiger Cry is the one to beat in the Joe Molloy Bookmakers' Telebetting Hurdle.

He won this a year ago and arrives now on the back of a cracking second to Greenhope over fences at Cheltenham.

Lady Orpen, who scored with plenty in hand at Tipperary on Thursday, can defy a mandatory 5lbs penalty in the Mallow Handicap at Cork today.

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