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Pointers on Track

Four Irish Point winners fancied for 2019 Grand National at Aintree

Did you know that two of the last three winners of the Aintree Grand National started their horse racing lifes in Irish point-to-points?

These three-mile tests before a thoroughbred racehorse goes under rules can give you an excellent idea of their potential future stamina.

With entries and weights already out for the 2019 renewal of the world's most famous showpiece now out, here are four Irish point winners that are fancied for Grand National glory on Saturday, 6 April.


Mall Dini

County Galway handler Pat Kelly is a very shrewd operator and his Philip J Reynolds-owned nine-year-old Mall Dini won Irish point-to-points at Belharbour and Killaloe before running under Rules. 

This Milan gelding progressed over hurdles to land the Pertemps Network Final at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. Mall Dini is still a chasing maiden after 13 starts, but has run some very solid races over fences in defeat.

While he's not guaranteed a run as he's not among the first 40 Aintree Grand National runners, only six need to come out the race for him to get in. Paddy Power go 20/1 that Mall Dini can break the maiden tag in the world's most famous steeplechase if taking his chance.


Dounikos

Major Irish owners Gigginstown House Stud will doubtless have several horses aimed at Aintree after winning the Grand National twice in the last three seasons.
Dounikos won the official trial in the Emerald Isle and, although Irish National sponsors Boylesports have agreed to fund his entry fee for the Fairyhouse equivalent, he could go to Liverpool instead.

The eight-year-old is trained by Gordon Elliott, who saddled Tiger Roll to victory last season, and guaranteed a run at Aintree. Dounikos started his racing career by winning a point-to-point at Punchestown, which is home to its own massive five-day end of season National Hunt Festival at the end of April. He is a 25/1 Grand National chance.


Minella Rocco

Another potential Aintree plot with an Irish point-2-point past is the JP McManus owned Minella Rocco. This Jonjo O'Neill trained nine-year-old has form over extreme distances after landing the 4m National Hunt Novices' Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

Minella Rocco beat Native River in that marathon test and confirmed the form 12 months later when chasing home Sizing John in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Little has gone right for this ground dependent horse since, but tackling the Aintree endurance test on a sound surface might be what the former Horse & Jockey point winner needs. He's also 25/1 for National glory this year after being entered last season.


Pleasant Company

Willie Mullins knows what it takes to train a Grand National winner after saddling Hedgehunter to victory back in 2005.
In Pleasant Company, he has an 11-year-old Malcolm Denmark owned gelding who not only won one of his two Irish point-2-point starts but improved on his second try over the Aintree fences.

After finishing ninth to One For Arthur in 2017, Pleasant Company almost touched off Tiger Roll in the race to the line on Merseyside last year. He went down by a diminishing head and is 2lb better off at the weight for that narrowest of defeats.
Pleasant Company is again being trained for the Grand National and, if you think he can make it third time lucky, he's each-way value at 25/1.
 

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