Sheep farmer Francis Casey confident of upsetting the big boys in the Irish Grand National

THE elite of Irish racing will be on show at Fairyhouse this Easter weekend for the Irish Grand National meeting – but will they all be upstaged by a sheep farmer?

That’ll be the case if Francis Casey has his way.


The crowds will be out in force at Fairyhouse for the Irish Grand National on Monday

Casey, a sheep farmer from County Meath, has bred all six horses in his tiny yard himself and believes 10/1 shot Max Flamingo will take all the beating in the big race on Monday.

Speaking to the Racing Post, Casey said: “I think he’s got a big chance, I really do. I’m convinced he will stay and, with a bit of luck in running, I think he’s going to take a bit of beating.

“We galloped him at the Curragh today [Monday] and it all went very well. Denis [O’Regan] was very happy with him. He was a bit free but enjoyed himself and I want him going to Fairyhouse a bit undercooked.”

Casey is the son of the late Peter Casey, one of Irish racing’s most colorful characters who shot into the limelight in 2012 thanks to the exploits of the four-time Grade 1 winner Flemenstar.

His son is convinced he has found the horse to give him his own 15 minutes of fame and hatched a plan as early as November last year to get Max Flamingo to the Irish Grand National.

His position at the head of the market lends credence to Casey’s bullish predictions and is based on the horse’s classy displays over fences this season.

The highlight was a third-place finish behind top-class rivals Gabynako and Fury Road, in a beginner’s chase at Fairyhouse in November.

Casey said: “Everything has been geared towards this since November. When he ran so well in that beginners’ chase, we said we’d have a good go at the National.

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“The few times he ran bad, he wasn’t right at all. We’ve all that sorted now. Even at Leopardstown last month he wasn’t himself and jumped out to his right, but he stayed on and was beaten just 11 lengths.”

With just six horses in its care, Casey’s operation is dwarfed by those of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead.

That is quelling his confidence though.

BoyleSports Irish Grand National Chase

Boyle Sports: 10-1 Max Flamingo, 12 Death Duty, Farclas, Gaillard Du Mesnil, School Boy Hours, 14 Corach Rambler, Full Time Score, 16 bar

Casey said: “I’ve six in here now and I bred them all myself. It was a three or four year plan. It was my only hope.

“I’m farming away as well, I couldn’t survive without that. I’m busy lambing at the minute, so it’s been a hectic couple of weeks.

“It’d be great if it all came together next Monday and Max Flamingo did the business. I think he’ll be bang there at the business end.”

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