Longhouse Poet is already a veteran of two Aintree Grand Nationals and a three-time winner over fences, and with just 10 starts over the bigger obstacle behind him, connections will be looking ahead to the future.
Trainer Martin Brassil knows what it takes to win the having done so with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, and Longhouse Poet was the big hope for the County Kildare handler in the Merseyside marathon this season.
The Dunmurray trainer twice hit the crossbar at the Cheltenham Festival in March as Fastorslow was beaten by a neck by Corach Rambler in the Ultima Handicap Chase and An Epic Song was a head second to Langer Dan in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.
Longhouse Poet, owned by Sean & Bernardine Mulryan just like those two Cheltenham runners-up, went into the National as a fancied contender but unseated JJ Slevin early in the race.
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||5.15, Saturday 13th April 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming Service, ITV and Racing TV|
|Odds||Corach Rambler 20/1, Noble Yeats 25/1, I Am Maximus 25/1, Vanillier 25/1, Mr Incredible 33/1, Delta Work 33/1|
In 2022, Longhouse Poet showcased his Grand National credentials with a really decent first attempt at the four-and-a-quarter-mile test.
He'd bagged a major prize via the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January of that season, collecting €60,000 for his connections in winning the major race at Kilkenny circuit, and was as short as 12/1 to add the National to his CV.
He was perhaps a bit too keen in the early stages of the race, racing prominently throughout, but was still right in the mix coming to the second last obstacle.
He faded and finished sixth under Darragh O'Keeffe as Noble Yeats won for fellow Irish trainer Emmet Mullins, ending the 82-year hoodoo of seven-year-olds in the National in doing so, but it was an encouraging effort from Longhouse Poet and Brassil vowed to return.
While most of the horses at the head of the Grand National betting in 2023 had other targets and headed to Aintree via tough tests at Cheltenham, Longhouse Poet was campaigned with just this race in mind.
The son of Yeats has had just five starts this season, three of which have been over hurdles to protect his handicap mark, while the two runs over fences came after the weights for Aintree were released in February.
Longhouse Poet had won two of those five starts, however, including last time out in his final prep run when getting a confidence booster in a 3m2f chase at Down Royal - having previously unseated new rider JJ Slevin at the first fence in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.
Brassil felt he had left work to be done and had no concerns with his jumping abilities as he outlined his pre-Aintree belief that Longhouse Poet could put in an improved display this year – especially if he consented to settle better early on.
He said: "It was his first time there and he was very exuberant [in 2022]. He is such a good jumper, he was making ground over the fences and Darragh was inclined to let him enjoy it."
Going to Aintree this spring, legendary champion jockey AP McCoy was amongst those suggesting Longhouse Poet had the credentials to win the Grand National, confirming he was enthused by the St Patrick's Day win in Down Royal en route back to Liverpool.
"He tanked through this last year and was a little too keen for his own liking. I like the fact he won last time," said McCoy.
"People don't think about how much confidence horses get from winning a race. I think last year's race is a big thing for me."
As it turned out, Longhouse Poet was once more in front rank early in the race, though perhaps not quite as keen-going as a year earlier. Sent off at 20/1 this time around, his race ended at the eighth jump on the first circuit when Slevin was unseated – with Corach Rambler going on to seal a much-deserved win for Lucinda Russell, Derek Fox and Scotland.
With just those 10 chase starts behind him, Longhouse Poet still has plenty scope for achieving better in the jumps game. He'll be 10 when the 2024 Grand National rolls around is priced at 50/1 to make it third time lucky in the most famous jumps race of them all.
Brassil and connections won't be letting go of that Aintree dream just yet and it's unlikely we have seen the last of Longhouse Poet at the Merseyside showpiece.