Irish National on the agenda for Backstage

GORDON Elliott plans to run Backstage in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on April 25.

The weights have been released for the Easter Monday showpiece with Saturday’s Aintree winner Ballabriggs at the head of affairs, but he is now finished for the season.

That would leave Welsh National winner Synchronised with top weight if he took up the option.

Backstage finished 10th at Aintree on Saturday and has come out of the race in good form. Elliott is also hoping to run Tharawaat and Beautiful Sound.

“Backstage (10st 9lb) is fine after Aintree and is an intended runner and obviously I’m hoping that both Tharawaat (10st) and Beautiful Sound (9st 10lb) get into the race,” said the trainer.

“Chicago Grey (11st 4lb) is better on a left-hand track so we may be going to Ayr, though I’m not ruling him out.”

Dessie Hughes has a handful of of entries but Western Charmer and Sarteano are at the forefront of his mind.

“I’m definitely looking at Fairyhouse for both Western Charmer and Sarteano although Deal Done may wait for Punchestown,” he said.

“Western Charmer has a fair enough weight (10st 6lb) and would like nice ground, but Sarteano (10st 1lb) wants it quick”

Martin Brassil tasted success with Numbersixvalverde in 2005 and hopes Ambobo makes the cut after missing out at Aintree. “Ambobo (9st 11lb) missed the cut at Aintree so I’d like him to get into the Irish National,” he said.

Other interesting entries include Noel Meade’s Aran Concerto (10st 10lb), Willie Mullins’ Quiscover Fontaine (10st 9lb) and Michael Hourigan’s Mr Cracker (10st 10lb).

Meade had retired Aran Concerto, who won the 2009 Powers Gold Cup, but he was in such great shape, he brought the 10-year-old back into training.

“He’s in good shape and coming along well,” said Meade.

“He had retired and was out in the field but on Christmas Day I went out and had a look at him and thought he was in great shape. So we brought him in the next day and started him off again.

“He was very good but had problems with his hocks. When he won the Powers Gold Cup here he knocked the tendon off the other hock having done the other one the previous year.

“It might be a shot in the dark but he’s well. In fairness, the handicapper has given him a chance. He’s dropped 5lb which is nice but with an old horse like him that’s had trouble, it’s difficult to get them back.”

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