The long wait for a winner proved worthwhile for Pat Hughes when Point Barrow gave the trainer his second Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse yesterday.
And the eight-year-old is a 33-1 chance with Ladbrokes and William Hill to emulate last year’s victor Numbersixvalverde and follow up in the Aintree equivalent in 12 months’ time.
The veteran handler had endured a torrid five and a half months since watching Virginia Preuil score at Punchestown but he came right back to form as his Philip Carberry-ridden charge plundered the 250,000 pot by a length.
After failing to make the frame in his five starts this term, Point Barrow was virtually ignored in the market as punters sided with prolific Thyestes winner Dun Doire, sending him off the 9-2 favourite.
But Tony Martin’s novice failed to make it seven in a row and after staying on from the back of the field could only finish seventh under Mick Fitzgerald.
Hughes’ gelding – who had finished a distant 10th in the Thyestes but has since undergone a breathing operation – was always handily placed and took up the running four fences from home.
Oulart kept to his guns and chased the winner all the way to the line to finish second, while A New Story overcame a horse falling in front of him close home to take third, another eight lengths away. American Jennie was fourth.
“My father ran a horse in this in 1952 and I won it myself in 1986 (with Insure) so it is brilliant to do it again,” said Hughes.
“I have gone five and a half months without a winner and have had five placed horses in a week, so it was going to happen sometime and it has happened in the right race.
“People say he needs soft ground but he ran two hellish races over two and a half miles over hurdles and I think he is just as good on good ground.
“He is so lazy at home and does nothing but he is a different horse on the racetrack.
“As soon as he walked in here he realised he was back at the races, pricked his ears and loved it.
“I need to say thanks to a man in Bristol. He ran in the Thyestes and I sent him away to Bristol after that for a small breathing operation. He wasn’t away long but it was worth it.”
Hughes was also full of praise for the winning jockey.
“Philip rode a fantastic race. I said to him not to get too far back and get him out of his ground, but I also said if he was travelling it would take a good one to beat him,” he added.
Carberry, whose famous family have a long and happy association with Nationals, was enjoying his biggest career success and the 25-year-old was surprised how easily he won.
“It all went so well – he got to the front going so well, he held on and it all went like a dream. It was one of the easiest races I have ever won,” he said.
“The horse sparked up when he saw the crowd and was in a buzz all afternoon.
“He is a stayer and wouldn’t be the fastest so the plan was to just get out and get near to the front. He then just jumped away and it all went like a dream.”