Magic to get her revenge on the Tiger
Last April Jessica Harrington’s mare Magic Of Light achieved the best Grand National finishing position by a mare since Nickel Coin won the race for the fairer sex in 1951.
A year on and this daughter of outstanding sire Flemensfirth is fancied to turn the tables on dual winner Tiger Roll who will almost certainly go off a red-hot favourite as he bids to join the legendary Red Rum; the only three-time winner in Grand National history.
In 2019 Magic Of Light was an unfancied 66/1 chance for the National after heavy defeats against the boys at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse despite her earlier wins in Mares only contests. She absolutely relished the unique test of the National fences however jumping quite brilliantly barring a mistake at the tallest fence on the course the Chair and the last when still upsides Tiger Roll.
She went down by 2¾L to Tiger Roll in the end with the duo plus Rathvinden pulling clear in a race dominated again by Irish trained runners. Irish raiders have certainly held sway in the National recently with a 1-2-3 last year following a 1-2-3-4 in 2018. Having won their first ever Prestbury Cup (most wins at the Cheltenham Festival) in 2018 and drawing level with 14 wins a piece in 2019 despite having far less runners the evidence is pretty compelling now that Irish handicap form is stronger than British form.
Indeed Magic Of Light herself made a successful return to British shores last time out when winning by 99L in a four-runner Mares contest at Newbury that became a two-runner event as far as finishers were concerned. Her tendency to jump right there would be concerning but the fact she lost a shoe perhaps explained that and it certainly wasn’t an issue over these fences last year so is perhaps best ignored as a one-off. She looked under pressure turning in until the fall of Field Exhibition but her jockey Robbie Power was adamant she would have won regardless and he felt she was merely warming to the task over 2m7f offering further evidence that a return to this marathon test would suit ideally.
Tiger Roll to the chagrin of Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary was hiked up 13lbs for his National repeat so Magic Of Light is at present 5lb better off with her rival whose diminutive size can’t be forgotten when it comes to lumping around top weight over 4m2½f. Although O’Leary has suggested more than once that Tiger Roll may not even run now given his lofty handicap mark that has to be taken with a pinch of salt. It does give an indication however of just how tough the task will be.
Nine-year-olds certainly have a fine recent record in this race with Tiger Roll last year the sixth winner that age to win the race this century so Magic Of Light is ideally placed in that regard and with all roads leading to Aintree again according to connections she looks sound value especially from an each-way perspective at 25/1* generally for a yard which had a quite brilliant 2019.
*Odds subject to change.