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Fairyhouse-bound Foxrock set to swerve Grand National at Aintree

Thu 20 Jul 2017

Foxrock appears increasingly likely to sidestep the Randox Health Grand National in favour of a tilt at the Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse - despite being left in the Aintree showpiece at the latest confirmation stage.

The Ted Walsh-trained nine-year-old is a best priced 25-1 for the big race on April 8, but owner Barry Connell is favouring the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse nine days later.

"At the moment, we're leaning towards the Irish National. I think the only thing that might make us change our minds is if it looked like it would come up soft in Aintree," said Connell.

"We'll have a better idea in 10 days or so, but the intention is to go to Fairyhouse as things stand.

"Not having to travel would be a plus and he's still only a nine-year-old, so he could go for the Irish National this year and the English National next year.

"That would be the line of thought at this stage."

Foxrock has made the most of having his sights lowered this winter, winning four consecutive races in the hunter chase sphere under the trainer's daughter Katie.

"To be winning those Grade One races consistently I think you need to be rated in the mid-160s," Connell added.

"When you're rated in the low to mid-150s, you can be placed, but you always seem to have a hard race as the horse is going a stride quicker than they're comfortable with.

"That's why we decided to switch him to hunter chases and it seems to have worked out well.

"He's got his confidence back and it was always the idea to give him four or five runs and then give him a go in a big handicap at the end of the season.

"If he did happen to win (the Irish Grand National), that would be great, but if he doesn't he still qualifies for all the hunter chases next season again, including Cheltenham and Aintree."

Seventy-nine horses have been left in the Grand National, but ante-post favourite Minella Rocco has been taken out.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill also took out 2014 Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor

Others to have been scratched include Road To Riches, Alary, Sausalito Sunrise, Carole's Destrier, Junction Fourteen and Out Sam.

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