Fairyhouse’s Winter Festival is set to reach a thrilling conclusion this Sunday afternoon with three Grade 1 features and plenty of big names ready to take centre stage.
However, anyone looking for a rising star of National Hunt racing should tune into the opener at 12:40.
The three-year-old hurdle race has an honour roll that includes the likes of Our Conor and Rashaan so the potential is there for another hero to emerge.
Landofhopeandglory was placed in a Group 2 on the Flat, rated around the 100 mark and has already proved effective over hurdles, winning two on the bounce for young Joseph O’Brien.
The further he went on his last run at Punchestown, the better he looked, which would suggest he’ll progress again today.
But to complicate matters in this small but select field, Willie Mullins’ attack is another French import, Bapaume who won in his homeland in April.
Meanwhile, another likely threat is Mega Fortune, who contributed to Gordon Elliott’s lofty tally of winners at Down Royal last month.
Though not totally confident, I’m slightly siding with Ruby Walsh’s mount Bapaume, hoping that the big smile on his jockey’s face after yesterday’s thrilling Tingle Creek aboard Un De Sceaux, is restored.
My bond is strong with fascinating juvenile contest
In the 13:10, Labaik was described by Elliott as a bit of a monkey, but his quirks haven’t scuppered his career over hurdles. Having been left at the start at Laytown on the Flat, he went on to win at Punchestown and followed up with a Graded win at Navan.
He steps ups in class again today in one of my favourite races at this point of the season, the Royal Bond.
Airlie Beach has been another great investment for the successful Supreme Racing syndicate.
She’s delivered on every single time of asking but faces the opposite sex for the first time. Willie said she keeps surprising him, pulling more improvement out of the bag, but she’ll need to find more again in this company.
Ruby has deserted her for Penhill who he gave a spectacular ride to at the Galway Festival and has partnered his two subsequent victories.
However, I’m opting for a lesser known quantity in Peace News who looked frightfully exciting at Cork last time. And I think he’lll be one of Henry De Bromhead’s A-list representatives this season.
Vroum Vroum Mag can skate away with Hatton’s Grace prize
Apple’s Jade is finally getting the step up in trip she looked like she might need after her two defeats this season, when she tackles an extra half mile in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at 13:40.
She’s up against it though, facing the fresher-legged Vroum Vroum Mag who I believe can make this a winning seasonal reappearance.
More Grade 1 delight is on offer in the Drinmore Novice Chase at 14:40. I didn’t get to see too much of A Toi Phil and his win in the freezing fog at Punchestown a couple of weeks ago but I thought he gave a fine display at Down Royal on his penultimate start.
My final bet of the day will be on this boy to land the hat-trick.
Happy racing and here’s hoping for another spectacular few hours of National Hunt action.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing