Tag Archive for: Fairyhouse

Saint Sam impresses with victorious chasing debut

High-class hurdler Saint Sam made a successful start to his career over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old was placed in a number of top juvenile races last season, including a runner-up finish in the Boodles at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Making his chasing debut and first competitive appearance since May, Saint Sam was the 11-10 favourite in the hands of Paul Townend and readily accounted for Thedevilscoachman by nine lengths.

Townend said: “He’s a good old spin. He ran into fair opposition last year over hurdles and gave a lot of weight away in the Fred Winter (Boodles).

“He has jumped well at home and we let him at it there. They didn’t leave me alone or anything, but he’s won nicely in the end.

“He had a good leap at the last and it was only then that he was getting going.

“He might go a bit higher over fences the way he jumps. He’s going to have stiffer tasks ahead of him but I think, on what he showed there, he can go to the next grade.”

Gavin Cromwell and Luke Dempsey combined to land the opening Fairyhouse January Jumps Hurdle with 4-1 shot White Pepper before Red As Rust caused a 25-1 upset in the Fairyhouse Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Nigel Slevin’s charge held a narrow lead when the challenging Brooklynn Glory fell at the last, allowing her to coast home by 12 lengths from 6-4 favourite Banntown Girl under Conor Orr.

“She ran a really good race here last year in a bumper, but we kind of over-raced her then and ran her back too quick,” said Slevin.

“We went jumping this season, she had a problem in Listowel but came back and ran well in Thurles. She was fourth there and the form has worked out, so we were hopeful today.

“She’s a grand mare. I don’t know where we go now, we’ll plod along with her and see.”

Gordon Elliott’s Wall Of Fame was a 6-1 winner of the Fairyhouse Easter Early Bird Handicap Hurdle under Jordan Gainford, while Farceur Du Large landed odds of 13-2 for Noel Meade and Eoin Walsh in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Rated Novice Chase.

The Mullins-trained Grivei (5-6) was a warm order for the concluding Racing Again January 15th Flat Race, but was denied close home by Liam Burke’s 18-1 shot Heliko Conti and Finny Maguire.

Burke said: “He got murdered everywhere and had nowhere to go. He’s a fair horse to pick up the way he did.

“He ran well in Gowran in a winners-of-one hurdle when he was only a short-head behind Willie’s horse (Dark Voyager) who is rated 130. We were too far out of it then, if we had rode a different race we might have frightened them.

“Obviously we’ll keep him a novice (hurdler) for next year. We’ll run in a winner’s race somewhere or else run in a good hurdle somewhere.

“He’s a decent horse, he has a great attitude and nothing fazes him. When you go for him he finds, I don’t often have one like that.”

Dunvegan claims Moore glory at Fairyhouse

Dunvegan made it four from four at Fairyhouse in the Dan And Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase.

Pat Fahy’s grey won a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the County Meath track four years ago – and completed the set with a handicap chase victory at the end of November.

The nine-year-old was the 7-2 joint-favourite to maintain his unbeaten course record in this €80,000 feature under Bryan Cooper and ultimately got the job done in fine style.

After tracking his pacesetting market rival Blackbow for much of the two-mile-one-furlong contest, Dunvegan hit the front in the home straight.

Blackbow briefly threatened to rally, but Fahy’s charge was winning the argument on the approach to the final fence and jumped it well to seal a three-and-a-quarter-length verdict.

“When I saw him jumping the second-last, I started to enjoy it,” said Fahy.

“It was straightforward, before Christmas he was bouncing but then he just went a little bit short. We worked on him and he showed today that he wasn’t feeling anything.

“Bryan gave the horse a brilliant ride and we always thought a lot of him. He won two bumpers and beat a lot of winners in Punchestown, then he was so impressive when he won his maiden hurdle here.

“He kind of went backwards on us and looked like a three-mile chaser, but this seems to be his trip.”

On future plans, the trainer added: “We have him in the Queen Mother. I know you are really jumping up in class but he’s done us no harm so we’ll see.

“There is also the Dublin Racing Festival. We’ll move on with him now and give him the chance to compete against the big ones over the shorter trips.

“He hasn’t been beaten here as he won his bumper, hurdles and now two chases. He obviously loves it and it’s a pity we can’t win the Irish National with him now!”

Fahy was also delighted with the performance of Castlegrace Paddy, who was best of the rest in third.

Castlegrace Paddy ran well in defeat
Castlegrace Paddy ran well in defeat (PA)

The 11-year-old had been off the track since suffering a broken blood vessel and pulling up at Gowran Park in early October.

“I was absolutely thrilled with Castlegrace Paddy. Davy (Russell) was delighted with him, he ran some race because that would be his first proper gallop,” said Fahy.

“It was a beautiful run and I couldn’t be happier.”

Mount Ida continues progression at Fairyhouse

Mount Ida got the better of Elimay in a thrilling finish to the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase at Fairyhouse.

Trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Davy Russell, Mount Ida looked set to kick on for victory approaching the penultimate obstacle as long-time leader Scarlet And Dove began to back pedal while Elimay was toiling in third.

However, Mount Ida and Scarlet And Dove came together in the air, costing both valuable momentum and allowing Elimay to nudge back into contention.

Mount Ida held a narrow advantage jumping the last and while Elimay gave everything on the run to the line, Russell’s mount held on by half a length.

Champion Chase winner Put The Kettle On, stepping up in trip to an extended two miles and five furlongs, failed to sparkle, dropping right out to finish last of the five runners.

Elliott said of the winner: “She’s a great mare and I’m delighted for the boys (KTDA Racing) as it’s the first day they’ve been racing to see a winner. They are big supporters of Irish racing and of the yard.

“They have eight or 10 horses with us, they are great lads and are going to be a force in the future.”

Mount Ida won the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival back in March when under the care of Denise Foster, beating subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloudy Glen by six and a half lengths.

Elliott said: “She’s a good mare and she has kept progressing. I suppose Cheltenham was the first time she really showed it to us last year, she was brilliant in Clonmel the last day and very good again today.

“After Cheltenham she was very sore of her back and we got her looked after. She seems to be a different mare since it.

“I was thinking Grand National for her but we’re going to struggle to qualify her as they have to run over three miles.

“It would look like you’d have to go for the Mares’ Chase (at Cheltenham) after that.”

Betfair go 6-1 about Mount Ida’s chances in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Festival.

Allegorie De Vassy was another given Festival quotes after an 11-length success in the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2022 Mares Hurdle.

Making her debut for Willie Mullins, the 4-7 favourite cantered home in the hands of Sean O’Keeffe to earn a quote of 12-1 for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Assistant trainer David Casey said: “She’s a grand, big mare and she’ll be a great mare to jump fences, the size of her.

“Sean said it was pretty straightforward, she jumped brilliant. She had been working well at home and on her French ratings she was thrown in. She had all that experience coming from France.

“She’s one that we think will improve away and she’s definitely a nice mare to look forward to.”

Jungle Boogie (5-6 favourite) made it a double for Mullins and O’Keeffe in the Happy New Year From Tote.ie Beginners Chase and a fifth win on the day overall for the trainer, who also struck with Stormy Ireland at Cheltenham, plus Al Boum Photo and El Fabiolo at Tramore.

Donagh Meyler was another to claim multiple successes as he chalked up a treble, kicking off with Carrig Sam (12-1) in the opening Happy New Year From All At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle.

Meyler then took both divisions of the Tote+ Pays You More At Tote.ie Handicap Hurdle with Where’s Frankie (17-2) and Full Noise (8-13 favourite).

Townend lands Fairyhouse hat-trick on dream return

Paul Townend enjoyed a dream first day back in the saddle at Fairyhouse when winning on all three of his mounts.

Blue Lord (8-11 favourite) and Stattler (5-4 favourite) won on their chasing debuts while Hi Ho Phoenix (7-4 favourite) won first time out over hurdles. All three were trained by Willie Mullins.

Townend had been out of action since dislocating his shoulder in a fall at Listowel in September.

He had hoped to be back last weekend for a host of Willie Mullins-trained big guns but gave himself an extra week just to be on the safe side.

Blue Lord provided Ireland’s champion jockey with the perfect comeback on his first mount when winning Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Blue Lord, who would have been second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival but for falling at the last when well clear of the eventual runner-up, had clearly done plenty of schooling at home.

He barely put a foot wrong on his way to winning, seeing off stablemate El Barra by five and a half lengths.

“It’s nice to be back and especially on the likes of him,” said Townend.

“He was very straightforward and he loves a fence. He’s matured a lot both physically and mentally.

“He did very well during the summer and he’s looking for the next fence to take it on.”

Blue Lord was cut to 14-1 from 25s for the Arkle in March by Betfair.

In the very next race Townend and Mullins doubled up when Stattler (5-4 favourite) also made a very impressive fencing debut in the Fairyhouse Supporting Irishinjuredjockeys.com Beginners Chase.

A classy staying novice hurdler last year, he finished in the first four in a trio of Grade Ones, the six-year-old looked a natural over the bigger obstacles.

Townend gave him a confident ride and had no trouble in picking off stablemate Fighter Allen on the run to the last, winning by six lengths.

“He’s similar to the first fella in that he loves jumping fences. He’s matured as well and they have both made the transition really well,” said Townend.

“He showed a turn of foot from the back of the second last up to the line that surprised me a bit. He picked up Fighter Allen nicely.

“It’s a perfect start for him and you would imagine he will make into a staying chaser. It was an ideal trip to start him over.”

Betfair cut the winner to 9-2 from 7-1 for the National Hunt Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Regarding his long absence from the saddle Townend admitted he had found it hard being on the sidelines for so long.

“It’s been a long and painful recovery and I’ve just been taking it day by day and listening to the professionals as to when I could come back riding,” he said.

Hi Ho Phoenix had been placed in three bumpers without managing to win but oozed class in taking the Fairyhouse 2022 Annual Pass Maiden Hurdle.

On completing his treble Townend said: “It was a lovely day to come back with no big pressure rides and three good chances. It couldn’t have gone any better.

“I think jumping has improved this horse so much. He really enjoyed it and will jump a fence in time.

“He was improving in all his bumper runs and I think he will keep improving.”

Paul Townend back with a bang at Fairyhouse

Blue Lord provided Ireland’s champion jockey Paul Townend with the perfect comeback on his first mount back from injury when winning Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse.

Townend had been out of action since dislocating his shoulder in a fall at Listowel in September.

He had hoped to be back last weekend for a host of Willie Mullins-trained big guns but gave himself an extra week just to be on the safe side.

Blue Lord (8-11 favourite), who would have been second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival but for falling at the last when well clear of the eventual runner-up, had clearly done plenty of schooling at home.

He barely put a foot wrong on his way to winning, seeing off stablemate El Barra by five and a half lengths.

“It’s nice to be back and especially on the likes of him,” said Townend.

“He was very straightforward and he loves a fence. He’s matured a lot both physically and mentally.

“He did very well during the summer and he’s looking for the next fence to take it on.”

Blue Lord was cut to 14-1 from 25s for the Arkle in March by Betfair.

In the very next race Townend and Mullins doubled up when Stattler (5-4 favourite) also made a very impressive fencing debut in the Fairyhouse Supporting Irishinjuredjockeys.com Beginners Chase.

A classy staying novice hurdler last year, he finished in the first four in a trio of Grade Ones, the six-year-old looked a natural over the bigger obstacles.

Townend gave him a confident ride and had no trouble in picking off stablemate Fighter Allen on the run to the last, winning by six lengths.

“He’s similar to the first fella in that he loves jumping fences. He’s matured as well and they have both made the transition really well,” said Townend.

“He showed a turn of foot from the back of the second last up to the line that surprised me a bit. He picked up Fighter Allen nicely.

“It’s a perfect start for him and you would imagine he will make into a staying chaser. It was an ideal trip to start him over.”

Betfair cut the winner to 9-2 from 7-1 for the National Hunt Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Regarding his long absence from the saddle Townend admitted he had found it hard being on the sidelines for so long.

“It’s been a long and painful recovery and I’ve just been taking it day by day and listening to the professionals as to when I could come back riding,” he said.

Long Walk Hurdle an option for Ronald Pump

Ronald Pump could head to the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot after his fine run behind Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The Matthew Smith-trained eight-year-old was making his seasonal comeback in the race having last run at Auteuil in May.

Ronald Pump finished second behind the unbeaten Honeysuckle in last year’s Hatton’s Grace, an outcome that materialised again as the mare won the race for a third consecutive season and Ronald Pump came home the runner-up once more.

“We were delighted with him, he ran a cracker and we were very happy,” Smith said.

“Honeysuckle is phenomenal, she is unreal so we were over the moon with our horse – we’d said before that if he could finish second to her then we’d be delighted.”

A quality field of eight lined up for the Grade One, five of whom were already winners at that level with the remaining runner, Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso, a horse who has been successful twice in Grade Two contests.

“I think they were nearly all winners of Grade Ones, everything that finished behind him, so it was a great run against good horses,” said Smith.

“They went a good gallop as well and he’s a three-miler, that’s his trip really.”

A step up to the gelding’s preferred distance could be next on the agenda, with the trainer inclined to enter Ronald Pump in both the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, run over three miles and three miles and half a furlong respectively.

“He might get an entry in the Long Walk Hurdle now, either that or Leopardstown at Christmas,” he said.

“We’re keeping our options open, we’ll have a look at both of the entries and see.”

Honeysuckle secures Hatton’s Grace hat-trick

Honeysuckle maintained her unbeaten record with an imperious display in winning a third Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The reigning champion hurdler has now had 13 races under Rules for Henry de Bromhead and this was her ninth Grade One verdict.

Connections had been weighing up whether to send her over fences this season but once the decision was taken to remain over hurdles, a third win in the Hatton’s Grace became her first objective.

De Bromhead felt he left her a little short heading into the race 12 months ago and while she was victorious, she only beat Ronald Pump by half a length.

It was Matthew Smith’s eight-year-old who proved her toughest opponent once again, but this time around he was eight lengths in arrears.

In truth, the result looked a formality from a long way out, when Rachael Blackmore moved Honeysuckle alongside the early leader Stormy Ireland with Ronald Pump going with her.

Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore return to packed enclosures
Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore return to packed enclosures (Niall Carson/PA)

Approaching the second last though, Honeysuckle pulled clear and despite jinking slightly to her right at the last, she only had to be pushed out to win as the 2-5 favourite.

Coral now make Honeysuckle odds-on at 4-5 favourite from 6-4 to keep her Champion Hurdle crown.

However, the race was marred by a horrible injury to Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition.

De Bromhead said: “I’m delighted with that, Rachael was brilliant on her and they are just a lethal combination, in fairness to them.

“She was really psyched before the race, she was trying to bite and kick and the only one who was getting away with it was me, actually.

“She probably gave me a fright last year so we might have done a little bit more this year for it, but when you’ve only so many runs – with a lot of mine I’d let them progress, but she was pretty straight.

“She’s an incredible mare and to be associated with her is amazing. The reception she’s got from everyone here is incredible.

“I’m at the stage now where I tell myself ‘she’s going to get beaten this time’. I’m nervous before she runs but we’re so lucky to have her as well. I had myself convinced all week that she was going to get beaten.

“I think it will be the Irish Champion Hurdle next, touch wood she’ll be OK. That route has worked before so we can back off her for a few weeks now, we haven’t really discussed anything after today.

“It’s fantastic to have Kenny (Alexander, owner) and his family over today and it’s amazing.”

He went on: “We have run her on quicker ground, in her maiden hurdle, but it was safe today.

“They were racing from a long way out. Stormy Ireland went a right gallop and we saw at Punchestown last year, you wouldn’t want her getting too far in front but Rachael was aware. She (Stormy Ireland) stopped quite quickly, so then I was looking for the dangers behind.

“I just have to try to remember how brilliant Rachael is and try not to worry as much. How lucky are we to be associated with her.”

Beacon Edge delivers decisive finishing flourish in Drinmore heat

Beacon Edge came from the clouds to claim an unlikely victory in the Baroneracing.com Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Noel Meade’s seven-year-old, a smart staying hurdler last season, was only fourth jumping the second last and looked booked for a place at best.

By then Gabynako had jumped for fun out in front for Darragh O’Keeffe and thinned the field out in the last half-mile.

Cape Gentleman fell at the fourth last then at the next Midnight Run came down, badly hampering Grand Paradis who lost all chance and was pulled up not long after.

Gabynako was still going great guns in front, but he made an error at the second last giving Fury Road a big opportunity.

Heading to the last Gabynako had just about got back on top but made another error, costing him plenty of momentum and leaving Fury Road in front.

By then Denis O’Regan had coaxed Beacon Edge to within a couple of lengths but on landing over the last, he was the one finishing with a flourish and while to Gabynako’s credit he battled back to head Fury Road, Beacon Edge (7-2) won by a length and a quarter.

It capped a frustrating afternoon for Gabynako’s trainer Gavin Cromwell, who had seen his My Mate Mozzie beaten a short head in the Royal Bond half an hour earlier.

Fairyhouse Winter Festival 2021 – Sunday November 28th
Denis O’Regan celebrates on Beacon Edge (Niall Carson/PA)

Meade said: “Like everyone else, I thought we were struggling at halfway and we were looking like we weren’t at the races. I don’t think Denis could go any quicker but from three out I thought we were getting back into it.

“I started shouting at the second last as the two in front went so quick and mightn’t keep it up, and there was not a lot between him and Fury Road over hurdles. My lad jumped reasonably well but going as quick as that, maybe he was struggling a bit on the ground.

“You’d have to think three miles is his trip and the three-mile race at Leopardstown over Christmas is the obvious next race for him.

“He has a bit of blood on his nose – I’ve never seen him bleed before, but sometimes they can get that from up high (in his nostril) or sometimes it can happen when they hit a fence. It didn’t stop him today anyway.”

Fil Dor digs deep to take Grade Three honours at Fairyhouse

Fil Dor justified his position as the early market leader for the Triumph Hurdle when maintaining his unbeaten record in the Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse, but he was made to pull out all the stops by Lunar Power.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, Fil Dor was made favourite for the Triumph following a very impressive debut at Down Royal, but he faced a different calibre of opposition in this Grade Three.

Nevertheless, he was still sent off the 4-7 favourite and Davy Russell appeared to have things under control for most of the race.

However, Noel Meade’s Lunar Power, a winner on his second hurdles outing at Punchestown and experienced from the Flat, was quickening all the time too.

The pair pulled 11 lengths clear, but Fil Dor was going away at the line and won by a length and a quarter.

Coral cut the winner to 9-2 from 6-1 for the Triumph Hurdle.

“Davy said he was just professional and was asleep the whole way. He gave him one dig and he did what he had to do,” said Elliott.

“A bit of softer ground would suit him better, but it was a nice performance and he did it well. Lunar Power brought him a little left so he needed the good jump at the last.

“We will look at Leopardstown over Christmas but ground will be a thing, so we will put him in at Chepstow (Finale Hurdle) as well.”

The opening Bar One Racing Sign Up Bet 10 Get 50 Irish EBF Mares Handicap Chase went to all-the-way winner Alohamora.

Alohamora jumped well out in front
Alohamora jumped well out in front (Niall Carson/PA)

Given a positive ride by Gavin Brouder, the James Nash-trained seven-year-old registered her first win since January 2020.

A 66-1 chance when well beaten at Cheltenham earlier this month, she was a well backed 3-1 shot on this occasion.

“It was a brilliant performance from man and horse and Gavin gave her a great ride as usual,” said Nash.

“She has only had four runs over fences and got an awful fall at Catterick and it knocked the stuffing out of her. We ran her afterwards at Limerick and she pulled herself up and wouldn’t take part, so I didn’t know until she got down over the first couple today.

“The owners are from the UK and the first time I got to meet them was a couple of weeks ago in Cheltenham, even though they have had her 18 months.

“Everyone was happy with her in Cheltenham, but I was a bit disappointed and thought she was a little better than she ran. She bounced out of the race and we were taking a bit of a chance running here, but the race cut up and I’m sure everyone was expecting it to be stronger.

“At the declaration stage, with Gavin claiming 7lb, I thought she had a small chance and she put it all together today.”

Denis O’Regan and Smoking Gun at Fairyhouse
Denis O’Regan and Smoking Gun at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

Denis O’Regan made it a double on the day for both himself and Elliott when getting Smoking Gun home by three lengths in the Baroneracing.com Porterstown Handicap Chase.

The rider had earlier bagged the Grade One Drinmore Novices Chase on Beacon Edge and his mount in this contest stayed on well after the last at odds of 10-1.

Elliott said: “We thought he might run a nice race in the Troytown last week, but he fell at the first and Denis gave him a brilliant ride.

“He was in a dispersal sale out of Gigginstown, and we bought him for these type of races and to have a runner in Cheltenham and all these places. The Irish Grand National would be the aim and he could go for the Kim Muir (at Cheltenham) too.

“I’m delighted for David (Barnard) and a very good friend of mine Mark Madden, who used to ride, owns a leg of him so it is great for them.”

Gua Du Large (left) was a second winner on the day for Rachael Blackmore
Gua Du Large (left) was a second winner on the day for Rachael Blackmore (Niall Carson/PA)

Honeysuckle won a third Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore and the team made it a double in the following Baroneracing.com Handicap Hurdle as 25-1 shot Gua Du Large fended off Glan by a neck.

De Bromhead said: “He was really disappointing in Down Royal – it was really heavy and I think he struggled on the ground. We didn’t really know what happened to be honest and he couldn’t even finish.

“We put a tongue-tie on him today and that might have made a huge difference but I’d say ground and it being his first run, caught him out the last day.

“We said we’d have another go here and he got all the breaks and everything went right for him. It is great for Robcour (owners) and it was an amazing ride. It has been an incredible half an hour.”

The closing Bar One Racing Giving Cash Back Daily (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race produced a thrilling finish with Royal Romeo (7-2) and Kilbunny Pontic (14-1) sharing the honours with a dead heat under Pat Taaffe and Harry Swan respectively.

Honeysuckle team feeling the tension ahead of Hatton’s Grace hat-trick bid

Connections of Honeysuckle have admitted to feeling the nerves ahead her bid for a record-equalling third victory in the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge will try to become the fourth horse to complete a hat-trick in the Fairyhouse feature after the popular Limestone Lad and two other brilliant mares in Solerina and Apple’s Jade.

Honeysuckle will be a red-hot favourite to take her career record to a perfect 13 victories from 13 starts, and Peter Molony, racing manager to owner Kenny Alexander, said: “There’s a few nerves all right.

“It’s amazing the following she has and in the week leading her up to her running, you see all the stories coming out and everybody is talking about it – the butterflies start to flutter.”

Honeysuckle scraped home by half a length from the reopposing Ronald Pump 12 months ago before raising her game to complete a Champion Hurdle treble at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.

Molony is hopeful the seven-year-old is fitter than she was at the start of last season.

He added: “By Henry’s own admission, she was probably a little short for this race last year. She took a blow for the first time ever in a race I think, but her class and her guts got her home.

“I’d say it’s probably a hotter race on paper this year, but Henry seems to be pretty happy with her – he’s always quite cautious, but he seems as happy as he ever does.

“Please God, first of all she comes home safe and hopefully she can get the job done for us again.”

Ronald Pump was narrowly beaten last year
Ronald Pump was narrowly beaten last year (PA)

Matthew Smith fits Ronald Pump with blinkers for the first time this weekend as he has his first run since finishing fifth in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in May.

He said: “He’s in good shape and ready to run. We’re looking forward to getting him out.

“We’re happy enough. He’s fit and he’s well and we’re hoping for a nice run.

“The blinkers seem to have sharpened him up a little bit, so we’ll give it a go and see how he goes.”

Willie Mullins, who has previously won the Hatton’s Grace with Hurricane Fly, Zaidpour and Arctic Fire, this year saddles Saldier and Stormy Ireland.

The trainer’s son Patrick rides Saldier, who is on a hat-trick after winning the Galway Hurdle and a Grade Three at Tipperary, while Danny Mullins – the trainer’s nephew – is on board Stormy Ireland.

Patrick Mullins said: “It’s great to back on Saldier after the Galway Hurdle. Obviously he’s in good form and hard fit which should be a bit of a help running against horses at the start of their season, but it’s going to be hard to beat Honeysuckle.”

Of Stormy Ireland’s chances, he added: “She has course and distance form and I think this ground will suit her. She’s not one for heavy ground.

“It’s her first run of the season and she’s got quite an aggressive running style, but she deserves to take her chance and hopefully she will pick up more money and more black type.”

Abacadabras after winning the Aintree Hurdle
Abacadabras after winning the Aintree Hurdle (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Gordon Elliott relies on Aintree Hurdle winner Abacadabras with stablemate Sire Du Berlais now a non runner.

“Abacadabras is in good form and I don’t think two and a half miles will be a problem on that ground, but the mare (Honeysuckle) will be hard to beat,” said the Cullentra House handler.

Paul Nolan sends high-class chaser Latest Exhibition back over the smaller obstacles, while Darasso (Joseph O’Brien), and Skyace (Shark Hanlon) complete the field. Sams Profile is also a non runner.

Mozzie aiming to reign in Royal Bond heat

My Mate Mozzie is among those bidding to add their name to an illustrious roll of honour in the Baroneracing.com Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Three-times Champion Hurdle hero Istabraq (1996), brilliant chaser Moscow Flyer (1999) and the record-breaking Hurricane Fly (2008) are just a few of the names who have claimed this Grade One contest.

The Gavin Cromwell-trained My Mate Mozzie is the likely favourite for this year’s renewal after he took his 100 per cent record over the smaller obstacles to two in the For Auction Novice Hurdle at Navan three weeks ago.

Cromwell said: “I suppose it’s coming quick enough after Navan, but I’m happy with him. He worked earlier in the week and worked well – we’re on target.

“It’s going to be good ground and that’s not going to be a problem for him. He travels well and has plenty of pace and can quicken.

“He jumps well. He jumped out a bit to his right in Navan, but we’re going right-handed in Fairyhouse, so hopefully that will play to his strengths.”

Gordon Elliott, who has won three of the last four runnings with Mengli Khan (2017), Envoi Allen (2019) and Ballyadam (2020), is this year represented by both Mighty Potter and Three Stripe Life.

Mighty Potter faces a step up in class after winning by 29 lengths at Down Royal, while last season’s Champion Bumper fourth Three Stripe Life impressed on his hurdling bow over the course and distance.

Mighty Potter was a runaway winner at Down Royal
Mighty Potter was a runaway winner at Down Royal (Niall Carson/PA)

“Three Stripe Life and Mighty Potter are in good form. They’re two nice horses – two babies at the start of their careers, to be honest,” said Elliott.

“It’s probably hard to split them. I suppose if I was to say anything, long-term Mighty Potter could be more of a big chaser than a hurdler.

“Three Stripe Life did it well the last day and has good form. He’s a nice horse who jumps very well.”

Hurricane Fly is one of a record eight previous Royal Bond winners for Willie Mullins, who this year saddles three horses at double-figure odds in Arctic Warrior, Farout and Statuaire.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Arctic Warrior was disappointing last time, but he’s come out of that race fine.

“He’s has had a lot of bad luck – he as an F and a P against his name. We think a lot of him at home, but he’s going to need to show it on the track now.

“Farout was very good in Galway. His jumping let him down in Listowel, but he has schooled very well since. We think he is better than his run in Listowel and we expect a much improved performance.

“Statuaire is coming back from a little break. On form she has to improve. If she could sneak a bit of prize money and black type that would be great.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Uhtred and Colm Murphy’s unbeaten mare Impervious complete the field.

Fury Road is one of two runners for Gordon Elliott in the Drinmore Novice Chase
Fury Road is one of two runners for Gordon Elliott in the Drinmore Novice Chase (Niall Carson/PA)

Top-level honours are also up for grabs in the Drinmore Novice Chase, which like the Royal Bond has been been dominated by the Elliott team in recent years.

The Cullentra House handler’s six winners include Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack (2013), Delta Work (2018) and last season’s brilliant winner Envoi Allen – and this year he fires a twin assault.

Fury Road was runner-up to the reopposing Gabynako on his chasing debut at this venue, while Grand Paradis fell at Down Royal in a race won by another leading Drinmore contender in Lifetime Ambition.

“Fury Road will come on an awful lot from Fairyhouse the last day, when he blew up badly going to the second last. He has come on well,” said Elliott.

“Grand Paradis did the same – he was having a blow when he fell at the second-last in Down Royal. In fairness he had jumped brilliantly and didn’t do anything wrong, but skidded out on his belly.

Bleu Berry after winning the Coral Cup at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival
Bleu Berry after winning the Coral Cup at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival (David Davies/PA)

“He schooled around Punchestown last week and jumped very well and he’ll come on from it.

“Both my Drinmore horses will improve. Whether or not that’ll be good enough, I don’t know yet.”

Grangee headlines Fairyhouse treble for Bryan Cooper

Grangee was the highlight of a treble for Bryan Cooper as he took the riding honours at Fairyhouse.

The Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is Grangee’s long-term objective after the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old completed Cooper’s trio when making a winning debut in the second division of the St. Peter’s Dunboyne GAA Maiden Hurdle.

The 2-7 favourite travelled smoothly throughout before pulling clear in the straight to score by five and a half lengths from Roaring Potter.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to the father, said: “Bryan was very happy. It was very straight forward, she jumped fantastic. She’s not the biggest but she has a good technique. She loved the ground.

“It’s the first time the owners have got to see her, so they are delighted.

“It’s planning back from the Mares’ Novice (at Cheltenham) I suppose. I don’t know where she will go next but it’s great to get her started like that.”

Grangee was cut to 9-1 from 14-1 for the Festival contest with Paddy Power.

The Nice Guy (9-4) made a winning debut for the Mullins team in the Willie Elliott Memorial (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

Lieutenant Command after winning at Fairyhouse
Lieutenant Command after winning at Fairyhouse (Alan Magee/PA)

Noel Meade is looking forward to seeing Lieutenant Command step up in grade following a front-running victory under Cooper in the Jim Ryan Racecourse Services Beginners Chase.

A talented bumper horse before losing his way over hurdles, the switch to fences appears to have reinvigorated the seven-year-old judged on this near two-length success.

Meade said: “He was brilliant when we schooled him. Pat Doyle had him as a point-to-pointer.

“We always thought a lot of him when he ran in bumpers and we were really looking forward to him last year. He won and then he got worse and worse and I don’t know why.

“He’s in the three-mile novice at Leopardstown over Christmas and the race in Limerick, so we’ll see what happens.

“He handled the ground but I would think he’d like it easier.”

Cooper led all the way on Dunvegan (3-1), who held the late challenge of Grange Walk to take the EasyFix Equine Handicap Chase.

Pat Fahy’s eight-year-old would not be denied and kept up the gallop to score by a length.

Fahy said: “When we’d run him on quickish ground on the Flat he wouldn’t even have a sore shin, so we said we’d chance him on it. He’s a big horse but he just loves it.

“His jumping was super today. We won’t go on heavy but he can go on soft.

“He’s in the Paddy Power Chase but I’d rather see him over a short trip and going out like that again. He could come back here over a similar trip.”

Gringo D’Aubrelle got off the mark over the smaller obstacles in game fashion in the first division of the St. Peter’s Dunboyne GAA Maiden Hurdle.

Benefiting from the experience of finishing second at Galway on his hurdling debut followed by victory in a Navan bumper, Gordon Elliott’s five-year-old got the better of his main market rival Adamantly Chosen in a stirring duel to the line.

There was little between them at the final flight but Gringo D’Aubrelle (evens favourite) stuck on the stronger to beat 11-8 chance Adamantly Chosen by three-quarters of a length.

The winner’s stablemate, Ash Tree Meadow, was four and a quarter lengths away in third place.

“He’s a nice horse but probably wants two and a half miles. I loved the way he put his head out,” said Elliott.

“Davy (Russell) said when he was on his own he was very idle. He galloped all the way up the straight. The second horse is a nice horse and we had the experience of a run over hurdles and race fitness on our side.

“We’ll look at something over Christmas or at Naas (in the new year). I’ll have a word with Noel (Moran, owner) and see what we do. The further he goes, the better he’ll be.”

Elliott completed a double with Chemical Energy (7-4 favourite), who outpointed Lunar Display on the run-in to land the Christmas Party Race Day December 11th Rated Novice Hurdle under 5lb claimer Shane FitzGerald.

Joanna Walton steered the Dermot McLoughlin-trained Lord Lariat (9-2) to a half-length victory over Favori Logique in the Fairyhouse Ladies Handicap Chase.

“His run here two runs back was good and he stayed at it well today,” said McLoughlin.

“Joanna won this race two years ago and she used her head. I was lucky enough to get her during the week.

“He seems to like that ground. I’d say he’d be happier going left-handed and we’ll see if there is something for him at Leopardstown over Christmas.”

Broomfields Jeremy (13-2) gamely held Carrarea by a head to take the Wear Your Christmas Jumper To Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle for trainer Philip Dempsey and his jockey son Luke.

“He battled well and I’m delighted with him. He was always a horse you were hoping was going to do something like that,” said the trainer.

“Clonmel the last day was a bit of a mess and two lightweights got away. He jumped much better out of that ground today and Luke gave him a great ride.

“He had a hard enough race today and we’ll see how he comes out of it. We’ll probably find something for him around Christmas.”

Treble-seeking Honeysuckle heads 10 for Hatton’s Grace contest

Honeysuckle faces nine rivals as she bids to win the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for the third year running at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The reigning Champion Hurdle heroine is also defending an unbeaten record, having won all her 12 starts under Rules.

The seven-year-old will be running for the first time since she took the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in April.

The opposition to Henry de Bromhead’s brilliant mare is headed by the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Saldier and Stormy Ireland.

Saldier has the benefit of a Grade Three success at Tipperary eight weeks ago while Stormy Ireland enjoyed Grade One glory in the Irish Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in early May.

Mullins withdrew his other entry, Klassical Dream, at the 48-hour final declaration stage.

Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump, who was only beaten half a length by Honeysuckle in this race 12 months ago, takes up the challenge again.

Gordon Elliott is two-handed with Abacadabras and Sire Du Berlais with the field completed by Darasso, Latest Exhibition, Sams Profile and Skyace.

The Baroneracing.com Drinmore Novice Chase has a wide-open feel after 10 were declared for the Grade One over two and a half miles.

Joseph O’Brien is responsible for three of the runners – Fire Attack, Midnight Run and Global Equity – while Elliott saddles Fury Road and Grand Paradis.

Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge, Bleu Berry from Willie Mullins’ yard, Emmet Mullins’ Cape Gentleman, the Gavin Cromwell-trained Gabynako and Jessica Harrington’s Lifetime Ambition make up the field.

Willie Mullins is triple-handed with Arctic Warrior, Farout and Statuaire as the Closutton attempts to extend his record number of victories to nine in the Baroneracing.com Royal Bond Novice Hurdle to nine.

Elliott has an interesting contender in facile Down Royal scorer Mighty Potter as well as Three Stripe Life, who was fourth in Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper and made a winning debut over hurdles over this course and distance earlier this month.

Colm Murphy’s highly-promising Impervious has won all her three starts over jumps to date, including a Grade Three at Down Royal. Cromwell’s My Mate Mozzie is also a Grade Three winner while Uhtred, from the O’Brien yard, makes up the eight-strong line-up.

Ronald Pump ready for Hatton’s Grace reappearance

Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump is due to make a Fairyhouse comeback as he takes aim at the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on Sunday.

The eight-year-old finished half a length behind the unbeaten mare Honeysuckle in the Grade One contest last season, after which he only ran twice more as setbacks interrupted his campaign.

Having overcome those issues a ​return to action is now scheduled for the same race, where the gelding is one of 11 entrants alongside Punchestown Stayers Hurdle winner Klassical Dream and Honeysuckle herself.

“Thankfully this year there’s been no setbacks, so we’re looking forward to him running,” Smith said

“He’s good and he’s ready to run, we’re looking forward to it. Obviously Honeysuckle now looks unbeatable really, but if he ran a similar race to last year then we’d be delighted.

“He ran a cracker last year but unfortunately everything went wrong for him after that.

“Thankfully this year things have been going well, we’re looking forward to getting him back on the track and back in action.”

Ronald Pump is a winner over both hurdles and fences, but the chestnut looks likely to remain over the smaller obstacles this year with the Christmas meeting at Leopardstown a likely next target.

“I would imagine so, yes, that’s the plan with him at the minute anyway,” Smith said when asked if the gelding would continue over hurdles.

“If he comes out of it well, the plan would be to head to Leopardstown at Christmas with him.”

Honeysuckle headlines Hatton’s Grace contenders

Honeysuckle will face a maximum of 10 rivals in her bid to win the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Henry de Bromhead’s mare remains unbeaten in 12 races under rules, including the last two renewals of this Grade One, two Irish Champion Hurdles and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

She is set to be sent off at prohibitive odds to make it three in a row this weekend – but there is plenty of quality among her potential opposition, chiefly from the Willie Mullins stable.

He can choose from Klassical Dream, who defied a huge absence to win at the Punchestown Festival, Galway Hurdle winner Saldier and Grade One-winning mare Stormy Ireland.

Gordon Elliott has his own strong team to choose from with Abacadabras and Sire Du Berlais all set, while Ronald Pump, second in this race 12 months ago, could run for Matthew Smith.

Darasso, Latest Exhibition, Sams Profile and Skyace complete the list.

Jessica Harrington’s Lifetime Ambition is one of 12 in the Drinmore Novice Chase.

He made a very impressive chasing debut when he beat Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge at Down Royal and the two could meet again.

Gavin Cromwell’s Gabynako accounted for Fury Road at Fairyhouse recently and are another pair who could clash for a second time in quick succession.

Elliott’s Grand Paradis, who was a faller behind Lifetime Ambition but was not done with on that occasion, and Emmet Mullins’ Cape Gentleman are others of note.

While only nine have stood their ground in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle it looks sure to be an informative affair.

Cromwell’s My Mate Mozzie has looked classy in two starts over hurdles to date, while Elliott’s Mighty Potter and Three Stripe Life carry tall reputations.

Add in Colm Murphy’s unbeaten Impervious, Joseph O’Brien’s Uhtred and Emmet Mullin’s Crown Major and it will take a smart youngster to prevail.

Peter Roe, general manager of Fairyhouse, said: “We are delighted to see Honeysuckle head a star-studded line up for the fixture which is regarded as the best weekend’s racing in the first half of the season, there is a great strength in depth throughout the entries on both days.

“The ground is currently good, good to yielding in places with showers forecast from midweek on, and there will be fresh ground on each day.”