With the Flat season still to hit full stride, jumps racing at Fairyhouse in Ireland hosts multiple Group races this afternoon.
Ground conditions are posted as soft and off time of the first is 14h25.
Willie Mullins, pictured above, saddles eight of the 16 runners in the Gr1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Honeysuckle Mares Novices Hurdle at 15h35.
Paul Townend now rides Ashroe Diamond, officially the highest rated stable entry, replacing Danny Mullins who rides Princess Zoe for his father Anthony Mullins. Her third placings behind Group 1 winning geldings Marine Nationale and Facile De Vega in two Group 1 features subsequent to her Group 3 win here, is the best form on offer. Additionally, that Group 3 victory was in late January, so she has had enough time to freshen up for this contest.
Magical Zoe, trained by Henry De Bromhead and interestingly ridden by Adrian Heskin, is rated 3lbs higher than the selection after a running on second at Cheltenham in a Gr2 Mare’s Novices’ Hurdle. She looks the danger.
Just over an hour later, seven go to the 2-mile start for the Gr2 Café En Seine Novice Hurdle (16h45). Mullins has two in this event with Paul Townend aboard Hunters Yarn. His last start was at the Festival, when well fancied, he finished unplaced. His trainer could offer no reason for that poor run after some top-class performances leading up to that, so I am going to give him another chance here.
He takes on a few unexposed sorts now in Nucky Johnson and Amir Kabir, as well as stable companion Hercule De Seuil.
Nucky Johnson finished a length in front of Hunters Yarn in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown last November and looks the biggest threat to the Townend ridden favourite.
Dinoblue, trained by Mullins for JP McManus looks the part in the Boylesports Novice Handicap Chase (17h20). Retained rider Mark Walsh is reunited with the six-year-old after missing out at Cheltenham when runner up to Maskada in the Challenge Cup Handicap Chase. This contest with only eight rivals looks much less demanding and could provide the champion trainer with a feature treble.
The days feature, the Gr1 WillowWarm Gold Cup Chase runs over two and a half miles at 17h55.
Course winner Mighty Potter, trained by Gordon Elliott, will look to redeem his reputation on Sunday after a disappointing third behind the front-running Stage Star in the Turners at Cheltenham. Post-race it was reported the horse lost a shoe in running.
That fact, together with his fine form in Ireland where he is unbeaten over timber makes him hard to beat even though Mullins saddles 6 of the 8 rivals.