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JP McManus: The green and yellow hooped army march towards the Grand National

The Irish owner JP McManus holds 11 entries in this year’s contest

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Any Second Now and jockey Derek O'Connor (right) go on to win the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase during St Patrick's Thursday of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

On the close of play on Friday evening, JP McManus had seen his lowest return of winners at the Cheltenham Festival in six years.

The 70-year-old has seen plenty of success at the Gloucestershire course over the years, with his first Festival success coming almost 40 years ago.

But he only had a sole success at this year’s meeting in the form of Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House, who landed the Marsh Novices’ Chase on early Thursday afternoon.

However, the Limerick native experienced a reverse in fortunes 24 hours later, when Time To Get Up justified favouritism in the Midlands Grand National, getting up in the final strides to secure victory at Uttoxeter.

Epatante wins the 2020 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival
McManus’ big guns, including Epatante failed to fire at the Cheltenham Festival

It continues the strong run of form the Irish owner has produced in handicaps this season, with wins coming in the Leinster National, the Matheson Chase, the Ladbrokes Hurdle and the Leopardstown Handicap Chase since the beginning of February.

McManus will be aiming to continue that run into the biggest handicap steeplechase of them all – the Grand National.

The owner has seen success in this race once before – when AP McCoy rode Don’t Push It to success in the 2010 renewal for Jonjo O’Neill.

JP McManus’s one and only victory as an owner of the Grand National winner arrived back in 2010

The famous silks of green and yellow will be boldly present on the Aintree turf, with the Irish owner holding 11 entries for the 2021 edition currently.

French talent Easysland was registered as top-weight for the contest, but it was announced yesterday by trainer David Cottin that the 2020 Cross Country Chase winner will not be making the trip to Liverpool next month.

Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now is McManus’ best chance of success in terms of a betting perspective, with the Webster Cup Chase winner sitting as the second favourite with a 12/1 price tag.

Can the Ted Walsh trained Any Second Now give JP his second National success next month?

Becher Chase runner-up Kimberlite Candy has the benefit of experiencing the unique Aintree fences and could be an interesting contender for Tom Lacey, while Minella Times has produced two strong efforts in large handicap fields in Ireland this season for Henry De Bromhead.

Anibale Fly made his seasonal reappearance in the Bobbyjo Chase last month and looked as if he needed the run for Tony Martin, while Nicky Henderson’s Ok Corral was found to be lame after being pulled up in the Ultima last week and will want to bounce back here.

Rowland Meyrick winner Canelo has been a consistent performer for Alan King and has caught the eye with his fluent jumping ability, hinting at each-way value if he can stay the distance.

Philip Hobbs’ Jerrysback possesses entries in both the British and Irish Grand National, while Tim Duggan Handicap Chase winner The Long Mile represents Philip Dempsey’s yard.

jonjo o’neill’s cloth cap heads the betting for the 2021 grand national [credit: racing tv]

Meanwhile, at the lower end of the weights, Paul Nolan’s Fitzhenry and Hobbs’ Musical Slave round off the Irish owner’s entries into this year’s contest.

McManus holds a strong hand of contenders for this season’s National Hunt showpiece, with a good chance of landing glory for the second time in this contest.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.

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