The ground rode soft at Fairyhouse on Sunday and if the tail-end of Hurricane Kate hits us overnight that will change the complexion of Monday’s card again.
But for now …
3.15 Grade 2 Novices Hurdle 2m
Gordon Elliott’s Sutton Place looks the one to beat after beating Royal Caviar by six lengths at Naas the last time out.
My day starts with Royal Caviar trying to narrow that gap but there’s not much between him and stablemate Babbling Stream in what is an open-looking contest once you take out the likely market leader. You could argue that Babbling Steam is possibly open to more improvement but possibly favours going left-handed.
Jett drops back in trip after an impressive maiden hurdle win at Leopardstown last time. He’s a likely improver but his best performances have come on better ground.
3.50pm Handicap Hurdle 2m 6f
I laid off the ice-cream on holiday to do the weight on Isleofhopeandreams in the handicap hurdle.
There won’t be much dinner on Sunday night either as I’m due to get down to 10st 1lb.
He’s in good nick at home at made a pleasing reappearance at Navan behind Admiral Brian in an opportunity hurdle after a long lay-off. I hope he’s worth it.
4.20pm Grade 2 Hurdle 2m 4f
I ride Sheamus for Sandra Hughes who was ninth to Great Field at Leopardstown after a couple of years off the track. I’d actually won on him on his last start before that.
The stable are always dangerous at this track (had a winner on Sunday with Acapella Bourgeois) but could be up against it here.
Dedigout won this contest last year and every drop of rain that falls will help his cause. It doesn’t look like he’s the easiest to train but is talented on his day and the softer the ground the better.
Taglietelle was fourth to Mall Dini at Cheltenham in the Coral Cup so it all depends on how he reacts to the quick turnaround. It’s not ideal but connections will hope the reward outweighs the risk.
5pm Irish Grand National 3m 5f
This is a real cavalry charge over the first three fences as everyone tries to get into a nice position and a racing rhythm.
I’m on Bless The Wings for Gordon Elliott who’s throwing eight darts at the board. He’s making a quick turnaround after Cheltenham where he finished third to stablemate Cause of Causes in the Cross Country Chase.
Stamina isn’t an issue, he’s won over course and distance and he has an each-way chance.
Cause of Causes and Mala Beach look to be the class acts in the race but top weights haven’t a great record of winning Irish Nationals.
Of Gordon’s other runners, Killer Crow could be well handicapped and missed out on Cheltenham, so comes here fresh. The 3m 5f trip is the worry.
Cheltenham was all about the mares, and the Irish National may be also.
Noel Meade’s Bonny Kate and my sister Katie’s mount Baie Des Iles finished first and second in the National Trial at Punchestown last January and are in form.
If I don’t win, I hope Baie Des Iles does for Katie and Ross.
Jonjo O’Neill specialises in staying chasers and won this with Shutthefrontdoor two seasons ago. Another Hero isn’t in the same class as him but has won his last two over fences and could still be improving.
5:35pm Grade 2 Mares Chase 2m 4f
Uranna looks up against it in the mares’ chase where English challenger Emily Gray sets the standard. Kim Bailey’s mare has been keeping good company all winter and will be hard to pass.
But Uranna did chase Bonny Kate home at Limerick and despite the shorter trip could run into the money.
6.40 National Hunt Race 2m
Death Duty has won his last two starts and could be the market leader but Blow by Blow is in good form, beat Jett well at Navan in a bumper and will make a race of it.