The Lion is back for one more bite!
Tom Gibney is hoping a campaign centred around a crack at the Boylesports Irish Grand National will reap benefits for 2012 hero Lion Na Bearnai. Aintree was the main focus for the gelding last term but he struggled to make an impact behind Pineau De Re and was pulled up four from home.
Considering his exertions there, connections were delighted with his run at Fairyhouse just 16 days later when he faded in the closing stages to finish 11th having held every chance turning for home. Now a 13-year-old, Lion Na Bearnai ran a cracker at the scene of his greatest triumph when narrowly held in the BoylesIGN Rated Chase in January and Gibney is hoping he can shine once again at Fairyhouse.
"He's in great order and I couldn't be happier with the weight he's got," said Co Meath based trainer Gibney. "I was very happy with his two runs this year, particularly at Fairyhouse. That was a better race than when he won it last year. He also ran well at Navan but he wouldn't be the same over hurdles. "We decided to target the Irish National this year rather than run in it as an after-thought.
"It wasn't even on the radar last year. We wanted a crack at Aintree and we're not sorry we did. "He needs a few weeks between his races though and we couldn't believe it when he was still there turning in last year. "He's had a better preparation for it this time."