Ahead of the Boylesports Irish Grand National, trainer Noel Meade reflected on a brilliant week for the Irish at Cheltenham.
Meade added to his own Festival haul last week when his unfancied juvenile, Jeff Kidder took the Boodles Hurdle. The stable continued their brilliant run of form at the weekend when Lafayette won the Lincoln Handicap, the traditional turf season opener on the flat.
JEFF KIDDER! 🇮🇪
A huge 80/1 winner of the Boodles!
Brilliant ride from Sean Flanagan and a brilliant winner for Noel Meade!#CheltenhamFestival #VMTVRacing pic.twitter.com/ocSBtBhuWc
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 16, 2021
The dominant display by Irish trained horses in Cheltenham this year has led to some souls searching across the water but Noel thinks the reasons for Irish dominance are quite obvious.
"There is no great secret to it, whoever has the best horses win the races. The best horses cost the most money. The most money is being spent by owners with horses in Ireland at the moment.
"Whether that is because of the prizemoney, or the better trainers or because we are just lucky that they want to have them here.
"Like even Cheveley Park buying those horses in Ireland and leaving them in Ireland was a terrible kick in the pants for English trainers at the time.
"Now there are quite a few of those English owners, Simon Munir and the like have been putting their money in here and they must be putting them here because of the prizemoney and the races are there to run in.
"We have got a great card now the way the whole setup is, not just the prize money. when you have a good horse in Ireland, whether he is a three-mile chaser, two-and-a-half-mile chaser or two-mile chaser, or the same thing for novice hurdlers.
"Our calendar now is much better, you can sit down now if you have an Envoi Allen or those top horses and in five minutes write down all the races you want to run in Ireland.
"You know exactly where they are and they come up at the right times to bring you to Cheltenham and those places. We have put together a great programme."
A lot of Cheltenham winners!
Although Meade admits while he did expect a good Cheltenham for Ireland, he didn't think it would be quite so good.
"Looking through it beforehand, I thought we would have a lot of winners but oftentimes we would go there thinking that we were going to have a lot of winners and it doesn't happen.
"With the amount of handicappers winning as well, it is, I suppose, a surprise that it is such a wipeout.
"When you think of it, Envoi Allen went down and they got beaten a few short heads as well, so it could very easily have been better," the former champion trainer said.
Tiger Roll was a Cheltenham winner who could line up in the Boylesports Irish grand national at Fairyhouse in a couple of weeks. The dual Grand National winner has a three-pound lower rating than in England.
While Meade will be hoping for more success in the race with Brace Yourself and Schoolboy Hours as he hopes to repeat for repeat success in the race he won with the Bunny Boiler back in 2002.
Full Boylesports Irish Grand National entries and weights here.
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