SHAMROCK Sat: It’s a big weekend at Fairyhouse as the Co. Meath track hosts two excellent days racing, including the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on Sunday, which will see the much-awaited reappearance of dual Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle.
⭕ Fairyhouse stage a good quality eight-race card on Saturday, which begins with an intriguing beginners chase (11:35am) over 2m5f. Minella Crooner battled all the way to the line in the Florida Pearl at Punchestown recently, when going down by only a head at the line. That was a fine effort for his first chase outing and should make him hard to beat here. The interesting one is I Am Maximus, who recently transferred from Nick Henderson to Willie Mullins, but Minella Crooner can make his experience tell.
⭕ Race two is a 2m5f chase (12:07pm) for lady riders. The race that Friendly Star finished third in at Punchestown two weeks ago was a much stronger race than this, and Tony Martin’s seven-year-old should have a good chance of taking advantage in this weaker contest. Kate Derwin takes off a handy seven pounds and looks capable of landing her first win under rules.
⭕ A strong looking Grade B 2m1f chase is next up (12:42pm), where trainers Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins look to fight out the spoils. The first named runs three, including Dancing On My Own, who goes extremely well fresh and looks feasibly treated now just a few pounds higher than when finishing an excellent second in Grade 3 company at Aintree last April.
⭕ Barry Connell’s Good Land beat two subsequent winners when taking a bumper at Wexford in October and looks the sort to improve again now tackling hurdles for the first time in the maiden at 1:17pm. He might offer more value than Benaud, Kansas City Star and Viva Devito.
⭕ Division two of the maiden hurdle (1:52pm) may not be a stronger heat, but it is sure to greatly anticipated due to the presence of Facile Vega. Willie Mullins’ gelding is unbeaten in four starts, which includes two Grade 1 bumper wins, and has already drawn many comparisons to his dam, the great Quevega. Facile Vega looks set to be one of the stars of the National Hunt scene in the years ahead and he can show everyone why in this crucial first hurdles start.
⭕ A competitive rated novice hurdle (2:27pm) follows and plenty look to hold chances. The Four Sixes appeared a strong stayer in the making when winning a maiden hurdle at Clonmel over 2 miles last month and should relish this extra half mile. He also gets weight from most of his main rivals and could take this race for the second year running for Gordon Elliott.
⭕ In the next (3:02pm), a handicap hurdle over 2m4f, look no further than Explosive Boy. This son of No Risk At All is still a maiden after 10 starts, but nearly landed a strong Cheltenham handicap off a mark of 117 when last seen in November. He was seen staying on strongly up the hill on that occasion when just denied, so this extra distance could bring about more improvement. He can run off a lower mark in Ireland too (111), so everything looks set for a big effort.
⭕ In the concluding bumper (3:35pm), Willie Mullins’ Point-to-Point recruit Nick Rockett might be the one to focus on. This son of Walk In The Park was a game winner of his only point start, at Curraghmore last October, and some of the horses he beat that day have gone on to do well under rules.