What a card of racing at Fairyhouse on Sunday! Seven races, 80 runners, three Grade One races and nearly €500,000 in prize-money.
Not for nothing is this regarded as Irish racing’s midwinter highlight and has quite rightly been given the title of Winter Festival.
And, once again, we are delighted to be the fixture’s sponsor. Six of the races on the day will carry the baroneracing.com name.
That includes the Grade Three 30 euros Free Bet baroneracing.com Juvenile Hurdle that opens the card. The exciting Coeur Sublime, who won a Navan maiden on his sole run on the flat before opening his account over hurdles at the first time of asking, heads the race market.
He is trained by Gordon Elliott who, of course, won all three of the card’s Grade One races in 2017.
The first of these this year is the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1:05pm), which has attracted a small, but select, field.
Gordon will be represented by the exciting and unbeaten Commander Of Fleet (Bryan Cooper) but will be facing two talented Willie Mullins runners in the Navan Grade Three winner Aramon (Paul Townend) and Tipperary Grade Three winner Quick Grabim, as well as Joseph O’Brien’s Triplicate (Mark Walsh), who finished second to Quick Grabim at Tipperary.
Next up at 1:35pm, is the Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase and it has produced a wonderful line-up.
WATCH 🎥Behind the scenes with @gelliott_racing this morning. Gordon gave @davekeena1 an update on his main runners for Sunday. Features Delta Work & Cubomania having their final school over fences before the @BarOneRacing Drinmore & other weekend runners schooling over hurdles. pic.twitter.com/sRwCS5CqP2
— FairyhouseRacecourse (@Fairyhouse) November 30, 2018
Among the ten runners are Grade Two and Three hurdle winner and Grade Three chase winner, Rashaan (who will race in first-time cheek-pieces on Sunday), and Willie Mullins’ Grade Three chase winner, Cadmium.
Well-regarded Down Royal winner, Delta Work, who won at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and Punchestown Grade Two runner-up, Blow By Blow, who will race in a visor for the first time, are two of Gordon Elliott’s three runners.
The other one is Cubomania, fourth in the Punchestown race just referred to but earlier a novice chase winner at Cheltenham.
Joseph O’Brien will be represented by his Tipperary Grade Three winner, Le Richebourg.
Other chase winners in the race include Henry de Bromhead’s Mind’s Eye, Jessica Harrington’s Jetz, Dot Love’s Dawn Shadow and Paul Nolan’s comfortable Naas winner, Discorama.
It looks like being a very good renewal of a race that was won in 2013 by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Don Cossack. Following him home that day were Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches, winners of seven Grade One races between them.
Following the 1800 624 524 Telebetting BARONERACING.COM Porterstown Handicap Chase at 2:10pm, a race that was won last year by leading Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Presenting Percy, it will be, at 2:40pm, the feature race of the day, the €125,000 Grade One BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, one of the best hurdle contests in the calendar.
Winners of the race reads like a Who’s Who of racing, including Danoli, Dorans Pride, Large Action, Istabraq, Limestone Lad, Solerina, Brave Inca, Hurricane Fly and Jezki.
How’s that for a hall of fame?
The headline story is Apple’s Jade’s bid to win the race for the third year in a row and she showed that she was a good as ever when winning the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on November 11.
History will not be easily made, though, because Supersundae, winner of last season’s Irish Champion Hurdle and Punchestown Champion Hurdle, will be among her opponents.
So will dual-Grade One winner Wicklow Brave, along with other Grade One scorers Farclas, who won the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and who has had a breathing operation since his last run, Shaneshill, Bapaume and Dortmund Park.
It is another race to savour.
As if these races were not enough, there will then be the 22-runner €100,000 Download The App baroneracing.com Handicap Hurdle at 3:10pm.
A measure of the race’s quality is that 2014 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Jezki heads the weights, but it also includes Charles Byrnes’ progressive pair, Off You Go and Wonder Laish, last year’s winner and second, David’s Charm and Morga, Galway Hurdle runner-up, Blazer, who, like Stratum and Saglawy, is trained by Willie Mullins, and Des McDonogh’s in-form Hearts Are Trumps, who has a weight-pull from his second to Off You Go at Galway in October.
Third at Royal Ascot, Stratum then won easily at Newbury before being sent off as favourite for the valuable Ebor Handicap at York, where he met trouble in running when finishing twelfth.
Saglawy won a Grade Two hurdle at Fairyhouse before finishing third in the Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle at Punchestown eleven days later.
Gordon Elliott will be represented in the race by Brelade, who finished seventh in the Cheltenham Festival’s County Hurdle in March on what was his handicap debut, and Tombstone, better known as a chaser these days but a Grade Three hurdle winner last year.
It is a fantastic race for the big pot.
The card will close with the royalhousedraw.com (Pro/Am) Flat Race, which has been won since 2009 by such horses as Al Ferof, Outlander and Identity Thief, winners of seven Grade 1 wins and 17 graded races in total between them since their Fairyhouse victories, and Getabird, twice a Grade 2 winner over hurdles since that Fairyhouse win.
It’s a fine way to end what adds up to a superb day of racing at Fairyhouse on Sunday, probably the best day of racing we have seen so far this season.
We hope to see you there.
Meanwhile, here’s a taster of the type of offer and concession we will have available throughout the weekend…