Easter in the Morgan household as a child was an imprecise affair.
Chocolate eggs were purchased several days after the main event because they were usually half price; sometimes those oeufs that actually came from a hen were painted, on other occasions they were not, rarer still they were rolled down a hill somewhere in the Mournes. It didn't happen that often so I can't be certain.
Church was a definite no-no given that my mother is and my father was a heathen. But to him, no prod of Satan's trident would ever sting quite as much as a failure to have a bet on the Irish Grand National. This was a peculiar phenomenon in itself since you couldn't actually watch the race in Northern Ireland - not quite true, actually, but it required an (illegal?) RTE aerial pointed somewhere at the south in order to take in the race and ours swept off the roof one particularly blowy autumn never to be replaced.
Often the only means of hearing the race was on the car radio during weekends away in Westport or Donegal, but on one Easter Monday my father drove 50 miles closer to the border just so that he could pick up the frequency.
And for what? I can't remember but I don't recall it being a race in which he was prolific at picking winners and, anecdotally at least, he had a pretty good record. We heard these things - like the time he sold a Linotronic typesetting machine and stuck the cash on Dawn Run to win the Gold Cup. So, what was it? I can only guess that it was him doing what his father had always done. Much like I'll be doing this week.
The Irish National is one for the trends, much like its English counterpart. However, there is a much narrower range that comes into play and I've failed more than once trying to narrow the field. That said, this is my preferred method when it comes to the horses and it stood me in good stead a fortnight ago for the Aintree race when Pineau De Re was a selection.
Just as is the case for the Grand National we can call on a whole plethora of stats to whittle the field down. These are readily identifiable from a rudimentary internet search and reveal favourable trends for Irish and French bred horses, those aged 6-9, those carrying 10st 8lb or less, those with a rating of 128-140, horses that have won over three miles, stats pertaining to freshness and value of races won.
It is particularly interesting to note that a horse such as Jim Dreaper's Goonyella sits near the head of the market yet has not placed or won a chase worth at least £19,000, a trend that has been shared by the last 10 winners of the race. Having been confronted with a field that was listed before the five-day declarations, I've had to be pretty brutal in my considerations but by applying those trends listed above I was able to take draw up a list of six.
Those horses are Tammy's Hill, Gallant Oscar, Daring Article, Letter Of Credit, Sraid Padraig and Saoirse Dun. Of these, I'm not sure the latter has the stamina for the trip and Letter Of Credit is susceptible to the £19,000 race trend (although it has placed in one there are other concerns, chiefly getting the distance).
That leaves Tammy's Hill, Gallant Oscar, Daring Article and Sraid Padraig. If we take the horses with trainers that have previous in the race, namely Tony Martin and Jonjo O'Neill, that's a positive for Gallant Oscar and Sraid Padraig. But lesser-known Irish trainers have a good record in the race and Liam Lennon's Tammy's Hill comes here following a hugely impressive performance at Cheltenham.
The pick is Tammy's Hill at 12s with shouts for Sraid Padraig at 20s and Gallant Oscar at 14s as each-way bets.
Quite how Aberdeen blew it last weekend is anyone's guess but suffice to say it cost me dearly. That said, we're still in profit at £51.72.