Jim Dreaper believes the postponement of last weekend’s Irish Hennessy meeting could have worked in Notre Pere’s favour after the weights for this year’s John Smith’s Grand National were revealed.
Notre Pere was due to tackle the likes of Exotic Dancer and Neptune Collonges last Sunday but the cold snap saw the race delayed by seven days.
The Welsh National winner has since been allotted 11st 4lb in the National and Dreaper thinks he would probably have had to shoulder more if the Hennessy had been run last week.
However, the eight-year-old is by no means a certain runner at Aintree.
“The plan is for him to run in the Irish Hennessy and I suppose in a way it is good the race was postponed as the weights have now come out before he runs in that,” said Dreaper.
“That said, the weight is kind of irrelevant as we sort of knew what we were going to get.
“We’ll have a look at him next Sunday against the so-called Gold Cup pretenders and we can assess him after that.
“The National is only an option at this stage.”
Although Dreaper was happy with Notre Pere’s weight, a number of his Irish colleagues were less satisfied.
Mouse Morris was disappointed to see his Irish National winner Hear The Echo will have to carry a minimum of 10st 11lb with stablemate War Of Attrition on 11st 1lb.
He believes the eight-year-old has been harshly treated by handicapper Phil Smith.
“Hear The Echo seems very badly handicapped to me. I thought he would have around 10st 4lb or 10st 7lb so 10st 11lb seems very harsh, especially on a line through War,” he explained.
“All the Irish seem to have plenty of weight. He (the handicapper) doesn’t seem to have given us a fair crack of the whip to me.”
Charlie Swan is another less than happy with the 10st 11lb given to One Cool Cookie.
He also has Offshore Account on 10st 5lb and Oodachee on 9st 4lb.
“He seems to have given One Cool Cookie way more than he should have when you consider Exotic Dancer is rated 174. He’s ran in England off around 150 and has ran to his mark,” said Swan.
“I don’t know where he gets this mark from – it’s absolutely crazy. It’s unlikely he will run with that weight.
“Offshore Account should get in near the bottom somewhere and while he has been off a long time, he seems grand.
“We have been taking things slowly with him and hopefully we will give him one more run before we look at Aintree. It is fingers crossed with him.”
Dessie Hughes was another to voice his displeasure with the handicapper’s assessment of Becher Chase winner Black Apalachi.
“I don’t mind Exotic Dancer being in there if we were on our proper mark but effectively Black Apalachi is up 21lb since winning the Becher,” he explained.
“He’ll run in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse before he goes to Aintree.”
Tom O’Leary has no qualms about the 10st 11lb given to his dual Thyestes Chase winner Preists Leap though.
“I’d be fairly happy with that. Weight isn’t really an issue with this horse because he’s very strong,” he said.
“As long as the ground is soft I think he’d have a really good chance. I was expecting something like that because he went up 11lb for winning his second Thyestes.”
Keith Reveley is another more than happy with the 10st 1lb given to Rambling Minster.
“That sounds good enough to me and we would have a fighting chance of getting in off that,” he said.
“That would be a smashing weight so we’ll see how things go between now and then and if he’s in good form, we could give it a go.”
Tom Taaffe is keen to let Cane Brake take his chance off 10st 13lb.
“It’s all a guessing game at the minute what will run near the top of the weights, but we’re very much looking forward to running Cane Brake in the National,” said Taaffe.
“He’ll have one run somewhere beforehand and he ran a really good race at Leopardstown last time. Hopefully he would improve a bit for that.”
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is still looking for his first victory in the race and has nine entries with Star De Mohaison (11st 5lb), Nozic (11st 3lb), Gwanako (10st 12lb) and My Will (10st 10lb) among his team.
Last year’s one-two-three of Comply Or Die (10st 12lb), King Johns Castle (10st 10lb) and Snowy Morning (11st) could all be back again while 2007 winner Silver Birch has (10st 6lb).