Pat Fahy is hoping cheekpieces will work the oracle for Mister Fogpatches in Monday’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
A close-up third to Longhouse Poet in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January, the eight-year-old has suffered a string of near misses this season and has managed to get his nose in front just once in 13 tries over fences.
However, finding good ground has been problematic and after finishing sixth on his last run in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham, connections feel headgear might help.
Fahy said: “He has lovely form and seems to be in good form. I’m happy with the ground. He might finally get his ground if the rain doesn’t come.
“Good ground helps his action and he can handle it very well, whereas other horses just mightn’t.
“It might give him a little bit of an advantage.”
Patrick Mullins was on board for his latest run, where he finished a fair sixth to Chambard, and Fahy added: “I was very happy with his run at Cheltenham, despite not being his ground.
“Patrick said that headgear might help him, because he lost concentration as much as everything. Cheekpieces might help him, so we are going with that.
“He wants to see what is going on. He is very inquisitive and Patrick felt at that part of the race, he would have to hush him on and he didn’t want to do that so far out, so he just lost his position.
“We have to go with the top man, you have to take advice from these sort of guys.”
Mister Fogpatches will shoulder a fighting weight of 10st 6lb with Danny Mullins taking the ride and hopes are high that he will develop into an Aintree contender next season.
“It would be nice to win a big one, but to win an Irish National would be something else,” said Fahy.
“He has the form, but has had a long season. If he arrives in the same form he was in for the Thyestes, I would imagine he would run a massive race. The ground didn’t help him. He struggles to jump out of soft ground and doesn’t jump with the same fluency – if it is good ground, it is no effort to him, he just floats over them.
“We think he’s a stayer and think he is an Aintree horse. We are trying to get one of these races, but it hasn’t worked out for us, so this will be the last hurrah, but really his main aim (next year) will be the Grand National.
“He will need to come up in the weights. If we ever could be sure we’d get in, we’ll be aiming for it for the rest of his career. He seems like that sort of horse.
“It would be lovely to arrive for that race fresh.”