Magical Zoe to build on eye-catching Cheltenham effort?
MAGICAL ZOE may have lost her unbeaten record when runner-up in the Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but she emerged with her reputation enhanced.
Magical Zoe was unable to throw down a meaningful challenge to You Wear It Well, who found plenty from the front, but, after being hampered and slipping on landing two out, she stayed on really well from an unpromising position to grab second.
That was just her third start over hurdles and she is very much the type to go on improving (she still has the Timeform ‘p’ for likely improver attached to her rating). She will also be fresher than many of the rivals she will meet in the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse on Sunday as prior to Cheltenham she had been off the course since winning a Grade 3 at Down Royal in November.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead won this Grade 1 event with the great Honeysuckle in 2019 and in Magical Zoe he looks to have a leading contender this time around.
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Strong local challenge in Irish Grand National
The Irish Grand National takes centre stage on Monday and local trainer Dermot McLoughlin, who bagged the extremely valuable prize with Freewheelin Dylan in 2021 and Lord Lariat last year, will be hoping to complete a remarkable hat-trick as Lord Lariat returns to defend his title.
McLoughlin, who is based in nearby Ratoath, is not the only trainer from County Meath hoping to land the prize, though, as Gordon Elliott could send out a typically strong team, while Gavin Cromwell has a fascinating contender in the progressive Stumptown.
STUMPTOWN sits 36th in the list, so he still needs six horses to drop out in order to secure a run, but if he makes the line-up he will hold strong claims based on his runner-up effort in a strong-looking edition of the Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Stumptown was beaten by a neck by the similarly progressive novice Angels Dawn, but that rival has picked up a penalty which leaves Stumptown looking well treated and capable of reversing the form.
Monkfish could make long-awaited return to action
There’s a good supporting card at Fairyhouse on Monday with three Grade 2s, including the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Hurdle which could feature the long-anticipated return of MONKFISH, who hasn’t run since losing his unbeaten record over fences in the Champion Novice Chase at the 2021 Punchestown Festival.
Monkfish had won his four starts over fences prior to that, including three Grade 1s culminating in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, and he had earned a top-class rating which saw him considered as a leading contender for the following season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A tendon injury sadly ruled Monkfish out of the entire campaign last season and he’s yet to be sighted this term, either, so it will be fascinating to see how much ability he retains if taking his chance in this two-and-a-half-mile hurdle after such a lengthy layoff.
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- When is the Irish Grand National? Fairyhouse date, start time, runners and betting