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Gordon Elliott and Gavin Cromwell have dominated this Fairyhouse opener in the past five-years and should fight out the finish on this occasion. Britzka looks the better of the two Cullentra House contenders following a maiden hurdle victory here last month, before finishing a creditable third to stable-mate Fil Dor in graded company at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Iberique Du Seuil battled hard to win at Cork but was previously well beaten by WHITE PEPPER at Galway last October. Gavin Cromwell’s filly will race forward again under Luke Dempsey and should be fresh on return having finished third at Aintree last month. The daughter of Fast Company went off favourite in Liverpool and her weight allowance which should be enough to see off Britzka.
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BROOKLYNN GLORY won her opening two races at the backend of 2020 in impressive fashion for Willie Mullins and should pay her way over hurdles this season. The daughter of Fame And Glory wasn’t disgraced when finishing fourth to stable-mate Grangee at the Dublin Racing Festival last February before ending the season when down the field here at Easter.
She’s a strong galloping type who travels well and I think any further rain will help her chances under Paul Townend. Banntown Girl looks her biggest danger having ran well in recent starts both here at Fairyhouse and in listed company at Punchestown last month. Jumping Jet is another for the shortlist while I’d also keep an eye on Mourne Lass who finished behind Bonttay at Market Rasen last August.
All eyes will be centred on Glenquin Castle for Martin Brassil and Mark Walsh as JP McManus’ runner looks for a remarkable eight timer. The son of Getaway deserves plenty of credit with four wins over fences and three over hurdles since the winning sequence began at Roscommon last August. He returns over hurdles off a revised rating of 117 following back-to-back wins at Punchestown – will his winning run end today?
I’m sorry for being a party pooper, but to answer my own question I think it will and that’s because ARDHILL looks a well handicapped rival for Gordon Elliott. As jockey Adam Wedge said post victory at Ascot, “I just had to point and steer” and that was certainly the case by the manner of success. He was placed extremely well by the Elliot team and the use of blinkers clearly helped. He returns here having missed Leopardstown and looks more than capable of following up off 111 under Jack Kennedy.
GRANGE WALK is a horse on the rise and progressing nicely over fences for trainer John Ryan and gets the vote to win the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase. Despite finishing second to Dunvegan here in November, the seven-year-old was impressive when scoring from off the pace at Leopardstown two-weeks ago.
The son of Thewayouare has now recorded three wins and two second place efforts over fences from nine-starts with connections targeting this race after success in Foxrock. Despite a 7Ib rise in the ratings, the manner of victory at Christmas suggests he can progress further and go very close. Elsewhere, Pat Fahy runs both Castlegrace Paddy and Dunvegan with Poseidon and Capuccimix others on the shortlist in a competitive renewal.
Saint Sam is an intriguing runner on his chasing debut for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend following a nice season as a juvenile hurdler last year. The son of Saint Des Saints ran excellent races behind Quilixious and Jeff Kidder at both the Dublin Racing and Cheltenham Festivals and the move to fences might be the making of him. However, I’m siding against the Mullins runner and happy to once again side with THEDEVILSCOACHMAN who has the benefit of race-fitness.
Noel Meade’s runner reached a similar rating to Saint Sam over hurdles and was not disgraced behind Appreciate It over the Christmas of 2020. Having won a listed contest over hurdles at Punchestown and finishing behind Echoes In Rain last Easter, he produced a good start to his chasing career last month. He learned plenty behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Ferney Hollow and returns here having missed a recent run against Haut En Couleurs at Leopardstown.
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The extended 2m 5f Novice Chase looks a very open contest and surprisingly enough hasn’t been won by a horse returned at over 9/2 in the past seven-years. SHOPPING AROUND has been the most consistent of these runners and should appreciate the step-up in trip to score for Jim Dreaper and Keith Donoghue. The former Loughbrickland point-to-point winner is versatile in terms of ground and should also have the scope to score having been recently racing over shorter distances.
The daughter of Doyen was staying on nicely at Clonmel last month and should be played late by Keith Donoghue who returns to the saddle today. Elsewhere, Millen To One was placed again at Leopardstown and should be there or thereabouts again for Francis Flood, while Farceur Du Large, Champagne Sparkles and Spades Are Trumps also on the shortlist. It’s a competitive race but the form, consistency and ideal conditions suggest that Shopping Around is a solid each-way play.
The two power houses in Irish Racing, Closutton and Cullentra House have dominated this closing bumper in recent years and do battle with Grivei and CALDWELL DIAMOND this year. Gordon Elliott won this race last year with Gerri Colombe and runs his gelded son of Sholokhov on debut here for owners Andy and Gemma Brown. It’s great to see more investment in Irish racing with the English couple building a relationship with respected bloodstock agent Joey Logan.
The dam of Caldwell Diamond is a half-sister to a French group winner and on pedigree might appreciate the underfoot conditions better than Grivei. Tim O’Driscoll’s runner also has French blood in his pedigree, but his sire Muhtathir was more effective on better ground during his career. The market will be informative as always while Silver King shouldn’t be discounted having finished a good third on debut at Naas last month for Oliver McKiernan.
Fairyhouse tips on Sunday
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