Danny Mullins' casts his eye over the action at Fairyhouse on Sunday where a duo of Grade 2s and a Grade 1 lie in wait.
13:50 - Ryan's Cleaning, Waste & Recycling Maiden Hurdle
This looks between Buddy Rich and El Barra on jumping form. Buddy Rich had a solid run in Leopardstown behind Grand Bornand and we saw some improvement for his first run on good ground. El Barra has a bit of decent form too.
The two coming off the Flat you couldn’t rule out either - Bold Approach for Jim Bolger and Raphael for Conor O’Dwyer - who were rated 97 and 85 on the level. If they can jump, they should be in the mix.
14:20 - Cawley Furniture Novice Handicap Hurdle
There’s one down the bottom of the handicap here called She’s Commanche for Adrian Murray and Sean Flanagan. She won quite well in Leopardstown on nice ground the last day and only got 8lb for what I thought was a very nice win. She carries 10st4lb here and is definitely the one they’ve all got to beat. Viscount Court for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore and Breakeven for Tom Mullins and Paul Townend are the likeliest to follow her home.
I ride Rebel Waltz in this race. I won on him the last day but he comes here off lay off which makes things a little bit tricky.
14:50 - Paddy Kehoe Suspended Ceilings Novice Hurdle (Grade 2)
Echoes In Rain is probably the one they all have to beat. She won quite well in Naas before Cheltenham where she beat Belfast Banter. That form reads very well now. Thedevilscoachman looks to be quite a decent horse but his form is on soft and heavy ground. This just might be a little on the sharp side and it will be interesting to see how he handles the conditions.
I ride Grand Bornard in it who won quite well in Leopardstown the last day and his previous run to that was on heavy ground, which he may not have liked. He was second to Grand Paradis who went on to win a decent race in Thurles. His form is good, he’ll like the ground and he could be a lively each-way contender here.
15:20 - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final (Grade 1)
I like Atlantic Fairy here. She won quite well in Navan over 2m5f and I thought on the day I was going to beat her, but she picked up well on the home turn and looked a decent mare. She had Global Equity behind her that day who went on to be second in a good handicap at the Dublin Festival.
There are a couple of others in here who were a bit disappointing at Cheltenham, including Roseys Hollow, Gauloise and Glens Of Antrim. They would really have to pick up a gear to get back on their disappointing runs.
An interesting each-way contender is Skyace who was fourth at Cheltenham. She’s the highest rated coming in here and has been the model of consistency all year, so I wouldn’t rule her out.
15:50 - Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle (Grade 2)
Grand Paradis is most likely to be favourite but I just wonder how he’s going to handle the better ground. Gentlemansgame has a very strong formline when he split Stattler and Gaillard Du Mesnil at the Dublin Festival but again this is going to be a different test on this ground. Of the two, I think Gentlemansgame is the one with the most potential to improve.
I ride Rembranlt’jac here for Willie. He won very well in Fairyhouse and he’s a horse who is open to any amount of improvement. It will be interesting to see what he can show here as it will point out his Punchestown target. He’s a horse who goes well at home and was a bit of a late bloomer. I think he’ll run a big race here.
16:25 - BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase (Grade B)
Yukon Lil is top-weight in the race and only won a week ago in a race down in Limerick. Her form has her up there to be as good as any of these, but carrying that weight it’s just going to make life a little bit difficult.
The one I like in this is Aramax. He was a decent hurdler, winning the Boodles at Cheltenham and won his beginners in Fairyhouse. While he was disappointing at the Dublin Festival, if he can get back to the way he jumped at Fairyhouse and the engine he showed when he was a decent handicap hurdler, he’s the one they’ve all got to beat in this.
17:00 - Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase (Grade 1)
Asterion Forlonge started to show a bit of a sparkle again when third to Chantry House in Cheltenham. He looked to be going well turning and just flattened out a little bit but I think the way he jumped will give him a good bit of confidence coming into this race.
Franco De Port was just very disappointing in the Arkle and just never seemed to travel after showing a decent level of form in Ireland. There’s just too many question marks about him.
Andy Dufresne’s run behind Monkfish at the Dublin Festival looks solid. He’s probably going to give Asterion Forlonge plenty to think about. He was really highly thought of earlier on in his career but just disappointed on a couple of days but for me he’s the most likely winner. With Asterion Forlonge’s tendency to jump a bit left, Fairyhouse might not just suit him.
17:30 - Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper
Dark Raven was good in Leopardstown the first day and the way Patrick rode him probably suggested he wasn’t all that well fancied and to be able to go and win the way he did, you’d have to imagine he’s going to improve plenty. He’s the most likely winner.
There’s a horse here who Tom Mullins trains called Hey Johnny. He’s a half-brother to Sir Gerhard and from what I hear, they seem to like him. He was a little bit green earlier in the winter and hopefully he can run a big race but he’ll have to be very good to beat Dark Raven.