Teahupoo prevails as Youmdor crashes out at Fairyhouse

Teahupoo came out on top in a dramatic ITM Virtual Stallion Trial Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained Youmdor looked a big threat when he loomed alongside Teahupoo (4-1) at the final flight, only for the 4-9 favourite to come down.

That left Gordon Elliott’s runner to win as he liked by 15 lengths in the hands of Robbie Power and make a winning debut for the County Meath handler. Teahupoo had won his only start for French trainer Gabriel Leenders at Auteuil in October.

Druid’s Altar was second with Autumn Evening half a length away in third.

“He’s a nice horse. Obviously we had a lot of luck on our side there with Willie’s horse going at the last,” said Elliott.

“I said to Robert ‘you were definitely beat’, but he said ‘I’m not so sure because my horse galloped from the last to the line’.

“He said he could see about three strides away from the last that (Paul) Townend’s horse was just starting to be squeezed along. I thought Willie’s horse would have won and we had luck on our side.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“He’s probably more of a stayer next year than a two-miler. I loved the way he put his head out and galloped from the last to the line.”

Teahuphoo was cut to 14-1 from 25-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Betfair, who left Youmdor unchanged at 14s.

Roseys Hollow (10-11 favourite) showed a neat turn of foot between the last two flights to run out a ready winner in division one of the Follow Fairyhouse ‘Racing From Home’ Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

The Jonathan Sweeney-trained seven-year-old quickened nicely for Mark Walsh to open up a crucial advantage and the JP McManus-owned mare galloped on strongly to score by four lengths from main market rival Global Equity.

It was a poignant first winner of the year in Ireland for McManus, who suffered the tragic loss of his daughter-in-law Emma on December 30 at the age of 40.

“It was very good and it’s great to get it,” said Sweeney.

“It’s great for JP and his family in tragic times. I pass on my deepest sympathies to them. 

“She jumped well, travelled, did everything well and Mark was happy.

“We’ll get over today and I’ll have a chat with Frank (Berry). He’ll talk to JP and see what the plan is. She’s a nice mare.”

La Chanteuse (10-1) caused a minor upset in division two when flooring the 8-11 favourite Manitopark Aa.

JJ Slevin pushed the Stuart Crawford-trained seven-year-old into the lead before the second-last flight and went on to score by six lengths. Norwigi was 16 lengths back in third place.

“We’ve always thought plenty of her. On her first run back at Down Royal, Ben (Crawford) rode her and he was disappointed with her,” said Crawford.

“She probably really needed it as she blew up halfway around. She came here today and obviously has come on a good bit from it.

“JJ gave her a good ride and it’s great to get it, they are hard to win.”

He added: “We were disappointed not to get a bit of black type with her in her bumpers. We didn’t sell her, and she’s owned by my mother, so there is a bit of extra pressure on.

“She’s entitled to take her chance in a better race. We could go across the water for a novice, but at this point in time we’d probably be trying for a bit of black type.”

Winters still dreaming as Chatham Street Lad sits Fairyhouse test

Mick Winters is hoping Chatham Street Lad can keep the Grade One dream alive by running a massive race in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

The nine-year-old has already been given two entries at the Cheltenham Festival, in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase, and is quoted in the ante-post betting for two other races there.

That interest and speculation stems from Chatham Street Lad’s emphatic victory in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month.

County Cork trainer Winters reports his stable star in fine form since that outstanding performance, and primed for Saturday action.

“He looks in good order – he came home very well,” he said. “He enjoyed the change of scenery, (and) he’s moving very well.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“The ground is obviously heavy, but Fairyhouse heavy might not be as bad as other tracks.

“We’re after a Grade One with him. He’s in good form and hopefully he’ll come back in one piece and give a good account of himself.

“He probably has to win if we are dreaming big time. He won well at Cheltenham, so you can get carried away, but there’s no reason why he wouldn’t back it up.

“The ground will be fine and safe. It’s great to have a favourite’s chance in such a race.”

Chatham Street Lad will be ridden for the first time in public by Simon Torrens, but the 5lb claimer has partnered him at Winters’ yard.

“The lad who’s riding him schooled him this year before his first race. Darragh (O’Keeffe) is not available this time, (so) it means Simon is on him.

“He gets on great with him and he’s claiming 5lb – which will help a lot.”

Winters did also give Chatham Street Lad an entry in the Sky Bet Killiney Chase at Punchestown on Sunday – when he would have faced the Envoi Allen – but that was just a precaution.

“We put him in at Punchestown just in case Fairyhouse was called off,” he said.

Opposition in a maximum 16-runner field includes Emmet Mullins’ The Shunter, who is back over fences after winning the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in November on his latest start.

Willie Mullins is two-handed with Fan De Blues and Pont Aven, while Gordon Elliott runs four – Chosen Mate, Or Jaune De Somoza, Bel Ami De Sivola and Timoteo, plus the reserve Dakota Moirette.

Joseph O’Brien is another trainer well-represented with three runners – Entoucas, Front View and Top Moon, all owned by JP McManus.

Envoi Allen all set for Punchestown

Gordon Elliott has confirmed Envoi Allen an intended runner in the Sky Bet Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old already has two Cheltenham Festival victories on his CV, having won the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and he is the even-money favourite to make it a hat-trick in the Marsh Novices’ Chase in March.

He will be widely expected to make it three from three over fences by extending his unbeaten record under Rules to 11 overall in Sunday’s two-and-a-half-mile Grade Three, where his potential rivals include his high-class stable companion Andy Dufresne.

Elliott said: “Envoi Allen runs at Punchestown on Sunday. He’s in good form and worked yesterday (Tuesday) morning. I’m looking forward to running him.

“He has plenty of weight to give away, but we said that’s where we’ll go. It’s a nice distance for him and it looks like the ground will be grand and safe.

“I’m not sure if Andy Dufresne will run. He’s in good form – but whether we will run the two of them against each other, I’m not sure. We’ll have to talk to the owners and see what happens.”

On the same Punchestown card, Elliott plans to run Magic Tricks in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, a Grade Two contest he has won in each of the past two seasons with Felix Desjy and Andy Dufresne respectively.

At Fairyhouse on Saturday, the Cullentra handler has several entries for the Dan And Joan Moore Memorial Chase – while the exciting Quilixios could put his unbeaten record on the line in the ITM Virtual Stallion Trail Hurdle.

Elliott added: “Magic Tricks will run in the Moscow Flyer. He won well in Navan, and Christmas was always going to come a bit quick after that so we had this race in mind for him. It’s been a lucky race for us the last few years.

“I’ll run four or five in the Dan Moore at Fairyhouse. Chosen Mate was disappointing the last day, and maybe he struggles on heavy ground – he could be a horse for the Grand Annual again.

“I’m not sure if we will run Quilixios at Fairyhouse or keep him for Leopardstown next month. We’ll run something in the race.”

Percy Warner prevails in Fairyhouse feature

Gordon Elliott was on course for only the second time since testing positive for coronavirus to witness Percy Warner claim a dramatic victory in the feature event at Fairyhouse on Tuesday.

The Cullentra handler was unable to travel to either Leopardstown or Limerick over the Christmas period as he had to undergo a period of isolation after contracting Covid-19.

He returned to the racecourse at Fairyhouse on January 3 and was back at the Ratoath venue for the track’s latest fixture.

Elliott said: “I don’t know how I got it (coronavirus). Everyone in the yard was tested and everybody (else) was negative.

“I’ve done my isolation. I had a couple of rough days – it was like having bad flu. I had no energy at all, but I’m fine now, thank God.”

With Never Do Nothing and, more notably, the prolific Dreal Deal taken out, Percy Warner was one of just three runners who went to post for the Fairyhouse Racing From Home Webpage Hurdle.

Following an impressive chase victory at the track last month, Jessica Harrington’s Sizing Pottsie was the 4-9 favourite – and everything appeared to be going to script for much of the two-mile contest.

Your first 30 days for just £1

The market leader was weary, but held a long lead on the run to the final flight, when he took a tired fall under Paddy Kennedy.

His exit left Percy Warner (11-4) and the Willie Mullins-trained Low Sun to fight it out and it was the former who clung on by half a length in the hands of Jack Kennedy following a ding-dong battle on the run-in.

“We were probably a lucky winner with the horse falling. I wasn’t even watching the leader jumping the last, I was watching the other two,” Elliott added.

“Jack said the leader was tying up very quickly going to the last. He said our horse probably needed more runners around him and a more competitive race. He was left in no man’s land on his own. He’s only had one run on the track.

“He’s a grand horse. He was bought to be a chaser and that’s what he’s going to be. This was a nice race to win.”

Duc D’Allier had earlier made a successful return from 949 days off the track in the Fairyhouse Supporting Local Business Beginners Chase.

Joseph O’Brien’s 9-2 chance had not been seen in competitive action since winning a maiden hurdle at Clonmel in the summer of 2018 when trained by Henry de Bromhead, but proved he retains plenty of ability with an eight-and-a-half-length success under JJ Slevin.

O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said: “It was a good performance. He does everything right at home.

“He was in last year and was nearly ready to run when the ground went quick. He’s a big horse and obviously had a few problems as it’s June 2018 since he last ran.

“He’s always jumped well and galloped well. It probably wasn’t the greatest race in the world, but he can’t do it any better than that.”

O’Brien and Slevin doubled up with Fun Light (11-4) in the Fairyhouse Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.

Charles Byrnes and Kevin Brouder combined to land the Bar One Racing Supporting Irish Injured Jockeys Maiden Hurdle, with 2-5 favourite Light Brigade getting the better of Purdey’s Gift by just half a length.

“It was a good opportunity as he was getting 8lb and he likes the ground,” said Byrnes.

“He had things in his favour today as he was well-in. He made heavy enough work of it, but he won anyway.

“It’s great to get the win out of him. He’ll probably go handicapping now.”

Trainer John McConnell was fined 3,000 euros, jockey Conor Walsh banned for 21 days and Tango Theatre suspended from running for 60 days after her fourth place in that race.

The stewards inquired into her effort and found the six-year-old had not obtained the best possible placing.

Chatham Street Lad headlines Fairyhouse entries

Cheltenham heroes Chatham Street Lad and The Shunter could lock horns in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The Mick Winters-trained trained Chatham Street Lad was a brilliant winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Prestbury Park last month, while The Shunter won the Greatwood Hurdle in November for Emmet Mullins.

The pair are among 25 remaining contenders for this weekend’s 75,000 euros contest, with Joseph O’Brien’s Front View and Impact Factor from Jessica Harrington’s yard potentially bidding to follow up recent course wins.

Gordon Elliott has left in six horses, including Chosen Mate, winner of the Grand Annual at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, while Willie Mullins has both Fan De Blues and Pont Aven.

Noel Meade’s Daly Tiger made an impressive start to the current campaign at Punchestown in November, but disappointed at Fairyhouse on his latest appearance.

Meade said: “Daly Tiger may run in the Dan Moore at Fairyhouse on Saturday. We’ll see how things progress this week.

“I don’t know why he ran so poorly the last day. Nothing went right for him and we’ll just have to put a line through it.”

Also featuring on Saturday’s card is the ITM Virtual Stallion Trail Hurdle, for which Gordon Elliott has entered Quilixios.

An impressive winner at both Punchestown and Down Royal, he tops a bumper entry of 17 along with the Willie Mullins-trained Youmdor.

Stone bruise rules Dreal Deal out of Fairyhouse outing

Dreal Deal will miss his intended outing in Tuesday’s Fairyhouse Racing From Home Webpage Hurdle after suffering a late setback.

Ronan McNally’s charge was due to bid for a sixth win on the bounce in the two-mile feature after triumphing three times over hurdles and twice on the Flat since September – progressing from a mark of 84 to his current rating of 141.

The six-year-old is reported to have suffered a stone bruise on Monday, but McNally has not yet ruled out a run in Sunday’s Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown should he recover in time.

Your first 30 days for just £1

He said: “It’s nothing major, it’s just a stone bruise. When we rode him out this morning, he just wasn’t 100 per cent and you don’t want to take a chance with a horse like him.

“He’s still in the Grade Two novice at Punchestown at the weekend and if he comes right in the next couple of days, he could still go for that.

“Tomorrow’s race was going to be a stepping stone to one of the Grade Ones at the Dublin Racing Festival next month, either the two-mile or the two-mile-six Grade Ones, whichever Appreciate It doesn’t run in as we’d want to avoid him if we can.

“That’s still in our minds and if he doesn’t come right for Sunday, he could go straight to Leopardstown.”

Low Sun lines up for Willie Mullins
Low Sun lines up for Willie Mullins (PA)

In Dreal Deal’s absence, four runners will go to post with Willie Mullins’ Low Sun the top-rated contender on a perch of 142.

He won the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on the level back in 2018, but has had just two starts since – finishing fourth in the 2019 Chester Cup before being well beaten when 16th behind Flooring Porter in Navan handicap hurdle last month.

Jessica Harrington’s Sizing Pottsie returns to hurdles having earned a rating of 157 over fences, with Gordon Elliott’s highly-regarded Percy Warner is another fascinating contender.

“I was delighted with his first run over hurdles in a maiden at Navan last month when he beat what looks a very smart horse of Noel Meade’s (Flanking Maneuver),” Elliott told Betfair.

“I was hoping he could give a good account of himself going to Navan, but I expected him to improve for that run, so the fact he won nicely would suggest he is a horse with plenty of potential for the rest of the season.

“He lacks the experience of his rivals who are all quite smart in their own right, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in, but with a shortage of alternatives he has to take his chance here. All things considered, I’m expecting a good showing from him.”

Dreal Deal bids for six-timer as he returns at Fairyhouse

Ronan McNally’s prolific winner Dreal Deal returns to action following a mid-season break in the Fairyhouse Racing From Home Webpage Hurdle on Tuesday.

Winless in his first 11 races, he has triumphed in his last five outings, scoring three times over hurdles and twice on the Flat.

McNally fancies a crack at Grade One company at the Dublin Racing Festival next month, which underlines the six-year-old’s progress from a mark of 84 to his current perch of 141.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“We’d planned to give him a break after he won five in a row, which is why he hasn’t run for a while,” said McNally.

“We’re looking forward to getting him going again and his main target is the Dublin Racing Festival for one of the novice events.

“Hopefully this acts as a nice stepping stone and he runs well, but he’s up against some nice horses and ours is still only a novice.

“If we get a nice clear round and get set up for the Dublin Festival, I’ll be happy enough.

“There are two Grade One novices at Leopardstown for him over two miles and two-six and I’ll probably try to avoid Appreciate It if I can, so we’ll see what the plan is.”

Paul Townend rides Dreal Deal while David Mullins rides Willie Mullins’ Low Sun.

Jessica Harrington’s Sizing Pottsie returns to hurdles having earned a rating of 157 over fences, with Gordon Elliott’s highly-regarded Percy Warner is another fascinating contender.

“I was delighted with his first run over hurdles in a maiden at Navan last month when he beat what looks a very smart horse of Noel Meade’s (Flanking Maneuver),” Elliott told Betfair.

“I was hoping he could give a good account of himself going to Navan, but I expected him to improve for that run, so the fact he won nicely would suggest he is a horse with plenty of potential for the rest of the season.

“He lacks the experience of his rivals who are all quite smart in their own right, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in, but with a shortage of alternatives he has to take his chance here. All things considered, I’m expecting a good showing from him.”

Hereford to inspect as freeze relents only slowly

Race meetings are still struggling to emerge from the grip of the cold snap – with Hereford’s Monday card set for a precautionary 7.30am inspection.

The going is described as heavy, frozen in places – but frost covers have been laid down.

Temperatures dipped to -4C overnight on Saturday but were slowly thawing on Sunday.

With the forecast suggesting the thermometer will not dip below freezing again overnight, hopes are high the meeting will survive – given temperatures are due to reach 5C on Monday.

There are no reported problems at Doncaster, with temperatures set to hit a tropical 8C in Yorkshire.

There is also an inspection at Fairyhouse at 1pm on Monday for Tuesday’s meeting.

The fixture was originally scheduled for Saturday but was frozen off and moved to Tuesday – but the course is still currently unraceable.

A statement from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board read: “The track at Fairyhouse remains unfit for racing due to a small number of frozen areas.

“There is an improving forecast, with rising temperatures over the coming days, and a further inspection of the track will take place at 1pm on Monday, 11th January, ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 12th January.”

Sunday’s meeting at Exeter survived three morning inspections, warming up just in time.

Fairyhouse aim for Chatham Street Lad

Chatham Street Lad is on target for the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse on January 18.

The Mick Winters-trained eight-year-old turned the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham into a procession last month.

He will now drop down in trip for the two-mile-one-furlong contest and will have several entries at the Cheltenham Festival.

“His owners take a real interest in the racing and go to a lot of trouble picking out the right races,” said Winters on Monday.

“I probably wouldn’t have considered the Cheltenham race so I’m happy to roll along with them and go to Fairyhouse.

“He’s in super form, he’s at the peak of his career you could say. He did a piece of work this morning, I know the lass on him was light, but he was flying along.

“It was two and a half (miles) last time and it means coming back in trip, but I don’t think it’s a big thing. The thing about coming back in trip is we might find out he’s a Champion Chase-type and then you meet a different calibre.

“He’s a big, strong horse. I’ve had a lot of point-to-pointers through the yard, but this one stands out.

“He’s very happy in himself so we’ll try to keep him together until then.”

Given Chatham Street Lad is still a novice he is likely to have plenty of options come March.

“I think the owners are going to spend a bit of money when it comes to Cheltenham and cover all options like the Champion Chase, Ryanair and the handicaps and he’s still a novice you see,” said Winters.

“Looking at the novices over Christmas you have Shishkin, Envoi Allen and Paul Nolan’s horse (Latest Exhibition) that we might come up against, so we’ll have to work it out.

“The big, galloping tracks suit him and if you had a choice of going left or right with him you’d go left.”

Royal Kahala impresses at Fairyhouse

Royal Kahala displayed a potent turn of foot as she notched a Fairyhouse hat-trick with victory in the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2021 Mares Hurdle.

A quality field went to post including Delvino, Hook Up and Razzle Dazzle Love, but none of them had an answer to the impressive winner.

Already successful in a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the track, Kevin Sexton took the brave route down the inner throughout on Peter Fahey’s charge.

Delvino was the first of the market leaders beaten with her jumping letting her down on numerous occasions, while Hook Up looked menacing going to the second-last.

Razzle Dazzle Love had led throughout, but had shown a tendency to jump left so Sexton took a gamble to go up her inside and it narrowly paid off, although she still had ground to make on on Hook Up running to the last.

Hook Up met it on the wrong stride, losing momentum, but the way the winner picked up suggested it made little difference, as the 3-1 chance shot five lengths clear.

Paddy Power cut Royal Kahala to 8-1 from 20s for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“To be honest I was fairly confident in her coming into the race,” said Fahey.

“I know it was a hot race, but the way she won the last two she found loads in the closing stages.

“She did it again today and she’s a very nice filly, we are lucky to have her.

Royal Kahala quickened up impressively after the last
Royal Kahala quickened up impressively after the last (PA Wire)

“When I was looking at this race I was thinking it would be an easy target, but when the entries came out it was stiff enough competition.

“I’d say the plan will be to come back here for the Solerina Hurdle at the end of the month. She did it well today and fingers crossed everything goes all right and she comes back here.

“I liked how much she picked up from the back of the last. She stays well and Kevin said she was strong at the line. A fast-run race will suit her even better.”

Fairyhouse Races – January 3rd
Flanking Maneuver clears the last on his way to victory (PA Wire)

Flanking Maneuver backed up a promising effort on his hurdling debut to win the Happy New Year From All At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle in the style of a good horse.

A wide-margin bumper scorer, he had chased home a nice type in Percy Warner last time out and Sean Flanagan always looked confident on this occasion.

The 5-4 favourite took a lead into the straight and did not come off the bridle in beating Folcano by six lengths to give Noel Meade, who celebrated a 70th birthday success 24 hours earlier, another winner.

“He’s done it really well and the step up in trip was obviously a big help to him,” said Flanagan.

“His bumper form was quite classy and he always showed a good bit at home. I’m delighted that he’s brought it forward today.

“I’d say the horse that beat us the first day was quite smart, too. I think the step up in trip today really benefited him.”

Dot Love is due to hand over the licence to her assistant Ciaran Murphy in the coming days – and after a winner on Saturday she landed the Happy Retirement Dot Love Ladies Handicap Hurdle with Flindt.

Flindt and Sarah Kavanagh jump the last in front
Flindt and Sarah Kavanagh jump the last in front (PA Wire)

“I thought yesterday was the highlight, but they came through for me. I never ever thought it would happen again today, it’s a fairytale,” said Love.

“It’s special for it to happen here and Peter Roe (general manager) was very good to name the race after me, that was moving.

“Having had the Irish National winner here as well it’s a lovely way to finish.”

There was plenty of chatter about Gordon Elliott’s 470,000 euro purchase Ginto ahead of the closing bumper, but he had no answer to Willie Mullins’ Whatdeawant (9-4) who beat the favourite by two and a half lengths to earn a 33-1 quote for Cheltenham.

Mullins said: “I’d imagine he’ll go for a winners or we could go straight to Cheltenham with him. Patrick (Mullins) was very happy with his performance.”

Cold snap threatens to bite

The current cold snap is threatening to play further havoc with upcoming fixtures as Ludlow’s card on Tuesday and Ayr on Wednesday both face inspections.

Ludlow will inspect at 9am on Monday with parts of the track currently frozen. While the course was unraceable on Saturday there is some hope for warmer temperatures on Sunday and Monday.

Ayr’s meeting on Saturday was called off at the 11th hour due to a frozen track and due to another extremely cold night their meeting on Wednesday is already in doubt.

Temperatures dropped to -6C on Saturday evening and are not scheduled to get much above freezing for the next couple of days.

An inspection has been called for 7am on Monday but clerk of the course Graeme Anderson tweeted: “With below freezing forecast for next few days there is very little chance of improvement.”

Sunday’s meeting at Fairyhouse did, though, survive a morning inspection.

Looking further ahead, officials at Chepstow are taking precautions ahead of the rescheduled Welsh Grand National meeting on Saturday.

A tweet from the course said: “We are deploying frost covers ahead of next Saturday’s rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National – temperatures are forecast to drop towards the middle of the week. Regular updates about the going will be posted here.

“It’s currently heavy with a generally dry week ahead.”

Shattered Love hunting Grade Three honours at Fairyhouse

Cheltenham Festival heroine Shattered Love bids to get back on the winning trail in the John And Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

It will be three years in March since Gordon Elliott’s charge won what is now the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds, after which she pushed subsequent dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo all the way in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

While she has found victories hard to come by since, Shattered Love successfully defended her crown in a Listed event at Clonmel on her penultimate start, before being well beaten in a competitive handicap hurdle at Navan last time.

“She’s been a great mare for us for the last few seasons and I thought she looked as good as ever when she won well from Cabaret Queen at Clonmel a couple of months ago,” Elliott told Betfair.

“Last time out I brought her back to hurdles for a big pot at Navan, but it just didn’t happen for her. She got never get involved and was well beaten.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“I don’t think we saw the real Shattered Love that day and she should do much better back over fences and in mares only company.

“There’s a few decent mares in here, but if she runs her race, she must have a great chance.”

As well as Clonmel runner-up Cabaret Queen, Willie Mullins saddles Salsaretta, who won her first four starts over fences last season, but fell at the first on her reappearance at Punchestown in November.

Agusta Gold (Mags Mullins), Ellie Mac (Henry de Bromhead), Miss Pernickety (Joseph O’Brien) and Moyhenna (Denis Hogan) also feature.

Elliott is keeping his fingers crossed Queens Brook can show her true colours earlier in the afternoon when she contests the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2021 Mares Hurdle.

An excellent third behind the Mullins-trained pair of Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It in last season’s Champion Bumper, the daughter of Shirocco was made to work hard to justify prohibitive odds on her hurdling debut here in October.

Since then, Queens Brook has been touched off by Skyace in a Grade Three at Down Royal and finished a distant third behind the exciting Concertista in a Grade Two at this venue.

Elliott said: “I suppose you could say that her season hasn’t quite gone to plan, but I think there is more to come from her over hurdles and she hasn’t yet gotten back to the form that saw her finish third in the bumper at Cheltenham.

“In hindsight her second to Skyace at Down Royal in October wasn’t a bad run and we probably asked to much of her last time when she took on Concertista and had to settle for third.

“I don’t think she gave her running that day and I’m expecting better from her this time, but this does look a hot race and it looks a Graded class contest in everything but name.”

Mullins relies on impressive course winner Hook Up, while Dermot McLoughlin’s Delvino and Peter Fahey’s Royal Kahala are others in the mix.

Pottsie back on winning track at Fairyhouse

Sizing Pottsie made the most of a drop in class to win the Boylesports This Is Betting Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Representing the Supasundae connections of Jessica Harrington and the Potts family, who retired their star hurdler this week, he had the race won turning into the straight.

Sizing Pottsie (7-2) jumped the last two fences in a slightly scruffy manner, but Paddy Kennedy kept him up to his work to beat Entoucas by six lengths.

“Two miles and heavy ground is what he wants,” said Harrington.

“Once he got to the front, he was very lairy and lazy. He went clear very quickly at the second last.

“The two-mile handicap in Leopardstown has a cap of 150 on it. He’s not in the Graded race at Leopardstown and neither is Impact Factor (who won at Fairyhouse last month).

Your first 30 days for just £1

“One will wait for the Dan Moore here and one might go to England for a two-mile handicap. I’d say Impact Factor will come here.

“They both want soft ground and it’s nice to have them.”

Kennedy’s brother Jack was also on the scoresheet when partnering Gordon Elliott’s Torygraph (evens favourite) to victory in the Visit For The Perfect Racing Gift Maiden Hurdle.

The rider said: “He’s done it well and jumped great. I didn’t realise how far clear I was, but he’s a lazy sort of a horse. I was just trying to keep the momentum going on him.

“He loves that ground.”

Willie Mullins unleashed his latest exciting bumper prospect as Brandy Love (4-9 favourite) justified strong market support in the closing Irish Stallion Farms EBF 4-Y-O Fillies Flat Race to win by seven lengths.

She was sporting the colours of owner Michael Grech, who is back involved in racing having dissolved his partnership with Stuart Parkin.

Patrick Mullins was on board and said: “She’s very good and a proper mare. That’s what she was showing at home and we thought she would do that.

“Those Jet Away’s seem to be quite good. He’s siring plenty of winners and she will keep his name in lights.

“I’d imagine she will stay in bumpers and could go for the mares’ bumper (at the Dublin Racing Festival) in Leopardstown and could be a spring Festival mare as well.

“It’s Mike Grech’s first runner for us. Henrietta Knight is involved with him as well, so it’s great to get a winner for them.”

Brandy Love is 16-1 from 40s for the Champion Bumper with Betfair.

Front View (11-4) was produced late by Mark Walsh to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Trainer Joseph O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “He’s never been a natural jumper, even over a hurdle. The last couple of times JJ (Slevin) has had to get him around. His front end is good, but he doesn’t bend his back very well.

“I think the race fell apart. They went a fair gallop and he’s got there. He’s just not a natural jumper, but hopefully he’ll get better as time goes by.

“He was fancied for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last season, but he didn’t jump there over hurdles.”

Envoi Allen in cruise control for perfect 10 in Drinmore

Envoi Allen cruised to victory and stretched his unbeaten record under Rules to 10 with a faultless performance in the BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Gordon Elliott’s superstar, already a dual winner at the Cheltenham Festival at the tender age of six, did not appear to put a foot wrong in the Grade One, jumping like an old handicapper in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

Only three were brave enough to take him on, with one of those his stablemate Coko Beach and the other two both trained by Joseph O’Brien.

Kennedy kept it simple and set out to make all – and everything went according to plan.

Rachael Blackmore and Assemble put it up to Envoi Allen approaching the second last – but if anything the scent of competition spurred the 2-11 favourite on, and he attacked the last two fences with vigour.

He popped the last on his way to an eight-and-a-half length success to build on his already sky-high reputation.

Betfair make him their 15-8 favourite for the Marsh Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“A clear round is all you want, and Jack said he was foot perfect the whole way,” said Elliott.

“The second last can be tricky here, so he let him back on his hocks – and once he gave him a squeeze after that, it was all over.

“The one thing he did say is he’s having a good blow, so there’s plenty of improvement in him. He had to be fit coming here today, but there’s a lot of improvement in him.

“It’s nervous watching him. I watched with Noel Meade, like I do most races, but I was plenty nervous today.

“We didn’t think there’d be much pace, so it made sense to keep it simple. When he gets in a real race you’ll see the real horse – that will be Cheltenham.”

En route, Envoi Allen may take a brief mid-winter break.

Elliott added: “We might miss Christmas – we’re thinking about a race at Punchestown, a Grade Two in January, and then on to the Marsh. He has the pace for two miles, but we’ll keep him to his own division.

“Three miles wouldn’t be a problem, nor would two. He won the Royal Bond last year, but the Marsh will be his race.

“He’s getting stronger but also more laid-back. He’s very relaxed, hence the reason there might be more to come.

“Jack has had a few nasty knocks, but all the horses are here for him to ride. Obviously Davy Russell is out injured, and this is his ride, but Keith Donoghue rides him every day.

“No one else rides him – if something happened to Jack he’d be riding him.”

Envoi Allen with jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Drinmore Novice Chase
Envoi Allen with jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Drinmore Novice Chase (PA Wire)

Kennedy was exhilarated as he reflected on Envoi Allen’s performance.

“He didn’t put a foot wrong again,” he said.

“He jumped great, and we only hacked around in front. When I asked him to go after the second last he fairly picked up and went down and pinged the last.

“Whether you’re long or short, it doesn’t matter on him. The way he picked up away from the second last is brilliant.

“He takes everything in his stride, and it doesn’t matter to him having to go and do the donkey work in front. He had a good blow today as well, and will come on plenty for that.

“That distance is probably best for him now. There is no point in getting the mileage up on him yet, because he’s still a young horse. Gordon knows exactly what to do, so we’ll leave it to him.”

Ballyadam steps up again in Royal Bond

Ballyadam maintained his unbeaten record over obstacles in a fascinating renewal of the BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Sent off the 8-15 favourite having won by a wide margin on his hurdling debut, Ballyadam faced much sterner opposition in this Grade One.

The field was tightly grouped throughout as Dewcup and The Very Man set only a steady pace, with N’golo and Gordon Elliott’s Ballyadam just behind in third and fourth.

When the pace quickened turning into the straight Jack Kennedy gave Ballyadam an inch of rein, and he quickened up smartly, but Cask Mate was making ground from the rear.

Ballyadam got in tight to the last as Cask Mate landed running and closed to within a length, but the favourite still had plenty left to go away again at the finish and win by a length and a half – with N’golo running on again into third.

Betfair make the winner their 13-2 favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March.

Elliott said: “You couldn’t ask for more.

“Jack said he was a bit novicey – but it was only his second run over hurdles, so we can take plenty of positives out of it.

“Jack said it was just hands and heels after the last – he just gave him one little flick. He said there was plenty of horse left but he’s still a baby, plenty of learning to do.

“I was hoping he’d win, but it’s never that straightforward.

“I’d imagine he’ll go to Leopardstown (at Christmas) now. He’s a tough horse who stays as well. He relaxes now – he was very keen in his bumpers.”

Kennedy said: “I was delighted with him. He made a couple of mistakes but recovered from them well, so he’ll have learned plenty from today.

“It was steadily run, and we ended up sprinting down to the second last. My lad has plenty of gears and he kept going well in front. I was always happy that he was doing enough, so I didn’t knock him around.”