Past Winners » Shutthefrontdoor


After kicking the Irish Grand National around all week, the two horses I am backing this morning are Cause Of Causes and Shutthefrontdoor …

Shutthefrontdoor is a horse I have liked all season. He hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet over fences, but he was only beaten three lengths in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, despite the fact that he did not jump as well as he can.

The Irish handicapper has given him a mark of 142 for this, 4lb lower than his mark in Britain, and that gives him a real chance. He finished fourth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last year as a novice hurdler off a mark of 144.

He shaped at the start of this season as though he could progress to be one of the top staying novices this term. That didn’t quite materialise, but he does retain that latent potential. He is a seven-year-old novice who has run just four times over fences. It would be surprising if, given normal luck, he did not progress to be significantly better than a 142-rated chaser.

Jonjo O’Neill is dynamite in staying handicap chases, and the fact that Barry Geraghty has been booked is significant. Geraghty has never won the Irish National, but he is one of the top riders, he is riding out of his skin these days, and he would have had his pick of plenty of horses in today’s race. Jonjo won the Irish National with Butler’s Cabin in 2010 (who had a remarkably similar profile to Shutthefrontdoor’s), a progressive staying seven-year-old novice chaser who had run in (and won) the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham on his previous run.

Shutthefrontdoor should appreciate the good ground today and, if he can get into a nice even jumping rhythm early on, he could go close.

I am not too concerned about the fact that both horses are towards the top end of the handicap, despite the fact that none of the last 10 Irish National winners has carried more than 10st 8lb. Not many horses compete with big weights in the Irish National. In the last four years, just nine of the 110 runners carried 11st or more, and one of those, Oscar Time, finished second. If a horse is well enough handicapped – as Cause Of Causes and Shutthefrontdoor potentially are – then a high weight should not be a barrier.