A host of stars are set to contest the three Baroneracing.com-sponsored Grade 1 races on the second day of the Winter Festival at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
The unbeaten Cheveley Park Stud-owned Envoi Allen stands out among the seven horses remaining in the Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novice Chase, a race his trainer Gordon Elliott has already won on five occasions. Owners Gigginstown House Stud might well provide the stiffest opposition with four contenders, Embittered, Easywork, Assemble and Coko Beach with the JP McManus-owned Andy Dufresne and Sean O’Driscoll’s hat-trick seeker Home By The Lee also standing their ground.
Honeysuckle makes her eagerly awaited return to action in the Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, a race she won a year ago on the way to Irish Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Festival success for owner Kenny Alexander, Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.
A five-time winner at Fairyhouse, she heads the nine remaining entries in the race with Elliott’s Fury Road, the Willie Mullins-trained Saldier, Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge and the Matthew Smith-trained Ronald Pump among the opposition.
A cracking renewal of the Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond Novice Hurdle is on the cards with Elliott’s Down Royal winner Ballyadam in line to clash with Willie Mullins’ Cheltenham Festival scorer Concertista and N’golo. Cask Mate, owned by the High Spirits Racing Club, is set to take his chance for Noel Meade while the Ted Walsh-trained Dewcup, owned by Michael Ryan, and de Bromhead’s Annexation, running in the colours of the South Ros Racing Syndicate, also feature among the 11 entries.
BARONERACING’s Barney O’Hare said: “We are delighted to see the two headline names Honeysuckle and Envoi Allen stand their ground in the Hatton’s Grace and the Drinmore. The presence of these two horses alone will capture the imagination of racing fans. The Hatton’s Grace is by no means a penalty kick for Honeysuckle, with the Gordon Elliott duo Fury Road and Cracking Smart confirmed, along with the Stayers’ Hurdle second and third Ronald Pump and Bacardys.
“Envoi Allen is arguably the most exciting novice chaser we have seen in Ireland for some time, but with Gigginstown having four entries he’s sure to face a challenge on Sunday. The Royal Bond has got an open look to it at this stage, with Ballyadam the talking horse having won so impressively at Down Royal.
“The handicaps add an extra dimension and should be fiercely competitive and strong betting events. We are looking forward to a top-class day of racing at Fairyhouse.”
Peter Roe, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, said: “I am delighted with the quality and depth of entries for our Winter festival. Sunday’s card featuring the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle has attracted all the top middle distance hurdlers led by Fairyhouse favourite Honeysuckle which will be bidding for her sixth win at the track and maintain her unbeaten record, but she faces opposition from the likes of Saldier and Ronald Pump. Envoi Allen will be bidding to create history and become the first horse to win three different races in three consecutive years on this card having previously won the bumper and the Royal Bond.
“This weekend is firmly established as a feature of the jumps calendar and this year looks no different except that we will unfortunately not be able to entertain the public who love their National Hunt stars. We hope that people will tune into RTE 2 on Sunday and Racing TV over the two days, follow us through our social channels and visit the Racing From Home page on our website.
“The ground is currently soft with a mainly dry forecast, after some light rain today.”