Anibale Fly Misses Leopardstown Run
— Bill Esdaile (@BillEsdaile) April 14, 2018
Strong Grand National contender Anibale Fly was set to run in the TRI Equestrian Handicap Chase at Leopardstown yesterday but he was a late non-runner due to having a high temperature.
The 2m5½f contest was won by Gun Digger for Gordon Elliott. Had he lined up, Anibale Fly would have had to carry top weight at the Irish course.
Tony Martin’s chaser has not been at his best so far this season as he has failed to beat a single rival in three appearances on the track. All three of those runs have come in Grade One company though, including last time at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.
A drop-down to handicap company was supposed to help the horse’s confidence as it would have given him a better chance of finishing at the front end of the field.
Before the race at Leopardstown, Martin stated that his horse was in great shape and he was expecting a big run.
He said: “He seems to be well at home and hopefully he can come back to his old form. He’s very well in himself at the moment so hopefully we’ll see a bit of a spark.”
Connections have opted to skip the Cheltenham Festival this year and instead focus on a shot at the 2020 Randox Health Grand National where he is 20/1* in the ante-post betting for the Aintree steeplechase.
Runner-up finish in 2019 Gold Cup
Anibale Fly produced a career-best 12 months ago as he chased home Al Boum Photo in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, finishing just 2½ lengths behind the winner at Prestbury Park.
That second-placed finish at Cheltenham was the second time the Irish horse had run into the placings in the Blue Riband event at the Festival as he was third in 2018 behind Native River and Might Bite respectively.
Martin’s chaser started this season rated as high as 167. He has dropped down to a mark of 158 now following those three disappointing performances in the 2019/20 campaign.
Third shot at Grand National
If he does line up in April on Merseyside, it will be Anibale Fly’s third attempt at the marathon race. The 10-year-old really enjoys a strong stamina test so it is no surprise that he has fared well on both of his two attempts to date.
On his debut in 2018, Anibale Fly finished fourth in the world’s most famous steeplechase. He was staying on much better than many of his rivals after the last fence at Aintree.
Twelve months later, the Irish horse came home fifth in the race which was won by Tiger Roll for the second straight year. He was awkward over the last fence but was able to get around the difficult course once again.
A third shot at the Grand National looks likely this year. Martin’s runner has been assigned 11st-2lb, 8lb lower than he had on his back in 2019. It will be the lowest the horse has carried in the race so far.
Anibale Fly’s campaign has been set with the Grand National in mind this season. Without a tough assignment at Cheltenham to contend with just a month earlier with this year, he will arrive at Aintree much fresher which could help his chances of success.
*Odds subject to change.