Tony Martin reports Saddlers Storm in “perfect” shape ahead of the Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday.
The Co Meath trainer took the valuable handicap chase with Davids Lad nine years ago and Saddlers Storm is favourite to give him a second triumph.
Martin’s eight-year-old is in great form and has won his last three starts, two of which have come at Fairyhouse.
“The ground is supposed to be very testing but it will be the same for everybody,” said Martin.
“He’s at the right end of the handicap all right and he’s in good form. All we can do is take our chance and go from there.
“He’s perfect, nice and fresh and well, I’m very happy with him.
“The trip will be no bother to him. We’d like a bit better ground but I’m sure a lot of others would too.”
Paul Nolan believes the testing going will suit his two runners, Alpha Ridge and Moskova.
“Hopefully we’ll get some luck in running and conditions will suit. Both of them handle heavy ground,” said the Co Wexford trainer.
“Moskova’s record in big fields is not good, but we are hoping for a bit of luck and it’s all about getting round on the first circuit and getting a position after that. The first four or five fences will matter an awful lot.
“Moskova has won four times in Fairyhouse, so you could nearly call her a course specialist. She has her quirks and will want a lot of running in a big field like this.
“Alpha Ridge’s novice season hasn’t gone to plan. He’s still a maiden, so we preferred to go for a big pot rather than go for a beginners’ chase and have his novice status gone for next season.
“We are hoping for a good run and if he happens to run well we’ll let him off and bring him back next season.”
Colin McBratney also feels the heavy ground will play to Selection Box's strengths.
“He’s a got a lovely low weight and the ground should be perfect for him and we’re hoping for a big run from him,” said the Co Down trainer.
“Sometimes his jumping lets him down a wee bit, but he ran well in the Thyestes (sixth to Whinstone Boy) with horses like Siegemaster and Pomme Tiepy so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be there or thereabouts.
“Eddie O’Connell takes 7lb off and the horse jumped fantastic for him in Down Royal (second to One Cool Cookie) last time.”
Jockey Robbie Power is concerned about the stamina-sapping surface for his mount, the Martin Lynch-trained Oscar Time.
“I’m not worried about the trip, it’s just the ground. If it’s loose he’ll be able to gallop away through it,” Power told At The Races.
“But if it’s drying out and gets tacky he won’t like it.
“He’s got 11st so he’s nearly at the top of the handicap now.
“I thought the handicapper was very harsh on him for his win in Leopardstown at Christmas, but that was on different ground and he did it very well indeed.
“It’s a stiffer test tomorrow, and with the tougher conditions I don’t know, but I wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race.”