Fairyhouse set for Bar One Racing Winter Festival

Will Reilly looks ahead to Sunday’s Bar One Racing Winter Festival at Fairyhouse.

Winter Festival 2023.

Sponsored by BarOneRacing.com, the Winter Festival at Fairyhouse is now established as the most-important jumps meeting in the Irish season this side of Christmas.

With three Grade One races on Sunday’s card plus a €100,000 two-mile handicap hurdle, €499,500 in prizemoney and a list of big-race winners that would grace any roll of honour, it is easy to understand why.

Our involvement began in 2006 through sponsorship of the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. Two years later, we took over the meeting’s other Grade 1 races, the Drinmore Novice Chase and the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

It has been a happy and successful partnership with Fairyhouse ever since.

The list of big-race winners at the meeting really does read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of jump racing.

The Royal Bond has been won by such horses as Istabraq, Moscow Flyer, Hardy Eustace, Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Nichols Canyon, each of them a champion in their own right, some of them all-time greats.

The Drinmore Novice Chase has been won in recent years by Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, subsequent Cheltenham Festival-winner, Envoi Allen, who also won the Royal Bond, and subsequent dual-Grade 1 Marsh Chase winner at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, Fakir d’Oudairies.

The Hatton’s Grace Hurdle – named after the legendary Vincent O’Brien’s three-time Champion Hurdle-winner – has been won by such champions as Danoli, Dorans Pride, Large Action, Istabraq, Limestone Lad, Solerina, Brave Inca, Hurricane Fly, Jezki, Apple’s Jade and Honeysuckle.

Apple’s Jade won three Hatton’s Grace Hurdles in a row (2016-18) and the hugely popular Honeysuckle emulated here in 2019-21, each time ridden by Rachael Blackmore.

They finished an honourable third last year, their crown being passed on to the Gordon Elliott-trained Teahupoo, who will be back to defend his title on Sunday.

Among his rivals will be Willie Mullins’ Impaire Et Passe, who is unbeaten in four hurdle runs, those wins including the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and the Grade 1 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April.

It promises to provide a superb centrepiece on another top-class weekend of racing at Fairyhouse.  

Saturday’s card, which features the Grade 3 WillowWarm Hurdle and Easyfix Equine Handicap Chase, A Listed race, carries €147,000 in prize-money.

We look forward to seeing you there.

First race on Saturday, 11.45am, and on Sunday, 11.55am.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article