Please Note: There is an inspection at Fairyhouse Racecourse on Monday morning and racing might be cancelled
BRAESIDE has plenty of experience and will put that to good use by breaking his maiden over fences in the opener at Fairyhouse. His third-place finish behind stablemates Pencilfulloflead and Coko Beach at Galway last October reads extremely well, with both improving since for Gordon Elliott. Pencilfulloflead followed up with victory in the Florida Pearl at Punchestown before finishing second to Colreevy at Limerick and third more recently to Eklat De Rire at Naas.
Coko Beach also enhanced the form by winning the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park under Jack Kennedy. Braeside’s second to Kavanaghs Corner here in late November is another nice piece of form with third-placed Envol Pierji winning at Down Royal last Thursday. Despite a poor performance against Asterion Forlonge at Punchestown, he wasn’t beaten far in two recent starts – including a another second-place effort behind Fils D’Oudairies at Navan.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained winner outran his odds when finishing second to Envoi Allen at Punchestown earlier this month. Choungaya has plenty of experience over fences without winning, with stablemate Fakir now having a third start over the larger obstacles. Elsewhere, Avellino races for the first time over fences for trainer Dermot McLoughlin who managed to win this race with Clontarf in 2017.
Kenny Alexander is happy to race both GAULOISE and Brave Way in the feature Grade 3 on the card with the owner looking for a third straight victory in this race. Eight of the last nine winners were favourites, with Willie Mullins claiming five of the previous eight renewals of this content. Gauloise is two-from-two in Ireland having previously won in France and was purchased privately by Alexander before heading to the Closutton team.
She won a mares maiden hurdle in good fashion at Thurles in November, before showing a nice turn of foot to remain unbeaten with victory in a Listed contest at the same track before Christmas. She’s an improving mare and can take this prize to cement her position at the top of the betting for the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Royal Kahala is the big danger for Peter Fahey following three straight wins, while Brave Way and Roseys Hollow should be fighting for third.
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GRAND BORNAND can continue the excellent form of the Willie Mullins team by landing this 2m maiden hurdle under Paul Townend. The son of Montmartre was green on his Irish debut when fading into fourth place at Cork last November, having previously been successful on his sole start in French in June 2019. Thedevilscoachman followed up his victory in that race for Noel Meade with a fifth-place finish behind Appreciate It over Christmas and a novice hurdle win at Navan last month.
Carrolls Cottage, who finished back in second for Philip Fenton, went on to gain success in a maiden hurdle at Limerick in early December. A hood and tongue-tie are used to help the five-year-old here and he can dominate from the front to win. Gloire D’athon drops down in trip for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, with Gordon Elliott’s Grand Paradis and Priory Park for Edwards O’Grady the other leading contenders.
It’s clearly not the strongest of races, but a chance is taken with DIRECT FIRE to improve and land this 2m 4f maiden hurdle for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. The Gigginstown-owned runner has been well beaten against much better opposition in his three starts over hurdles to date.
Master McShee, Bob Olinger and On Eagles Wings were the winners of those races at Cork, Navan and Naas and this is a much easier race to win. The return to this longer trip will be a positive for the former Moira point-to-point winner who was also fourth to Sporting John at Borris House a few years ago.
It was nice to see Sporting John bounce back to form over the weekend with victory in the Scilly Isles at Sandown for JP McManus and Philip Hobbs. Quarry Girl is a danger for Denis Hogan. while Little Actress can reach the frame for Stuart Crawford – who produced La Chanteuse to bolt-up and beat On Eagles Wings at Down Royal last week.
* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
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