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Bobbyjo Chase – Grand National Favourite Vanillier Makes Prep for Big Race this Weekend

Vanillier, Grand National

Only four runners may have been declared for this Saturday’s Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, but the race represents a key cornerstone for the 2024 Grand National. The runner-up in the Aintree showpiece has emerged from this race in the last two seasons and is being used as a prep by a couple of notable entries in this year’s National.

Chief among those is Vanillier, second in both last year’s Bobbyjo Chase and Grand National, but who has been backed into favourite to go one better this time around. Gavin Cromwell’s grey narrowly failed to concede 8lb to Kemboy 12 months ago, but followed that up with his fast-finishing effort behind Corach Rambler over the famous fences and could well be seeking a double victory in this pair of races this season.

However, each member of the Bobbyjo quartet has been given a Grand National entry, so all will be seeking to make a decent effort to prepare themselves for April. I Am Maximus is likely to be another big player in both races given trainer Willie Mullins has won eight of the last ten renewals of the Fairyhouse contest, while this eight-year-old won the Irish Grand National as a novice last season. He has kept good company this term, but can lay down a marker to Vanillier given he concedes him 12lb in penalties here, but will carry just 8lb more in the National.

Gordon Elliott sends out the other pair in the line-up in former Grade 1 winner Fury Road and the stamina laden Minella Crooner. The former fell at the second in last year’s Grand National and has generally been out of sorts since, though the latter secured a Listed success at Wexford in November and is being brought steadily along with a big handicap in mind.