THE CLIMAX OF the season is fast approaching, heralded by the Easter Festival which begins this afternoon at Fairyhouse.
It’s an interesting card, highlighted by the Powers Gold Cup. First up however is the Mares’ Championship Novice Hurdle Final, a Grade 2 race over 2m4f. With owners desperate for some black type for their mares, a field of 13 goes to post.
The going will be the deciding factor here, with many of the runners going into the unknown on good ground. Cases can be made for Carrigeen Kariega, Ceol Rua and Dressedtothenines but Jessie Harrington’s BURN AND TURN may be the bet.
A winner of her bumper on good ground at Punchestown last May, she won her maiden hurdle on pretty desperate ground at Leopardstown in January and reappeared fairly quickly in a Grade 1 at the same venue where she trailed in behind Benefficient. However, her trainer has always said that she’d be a better horse in the spring and on good ground.
Next up is the Grade 2 Coolmore Sires’ Novice Hurdle over 2m4f. It’s a tricky affair and again it will be down to who can handle the ground.
Lyreen Legend has been impressing all winter winning three times in six outings and placed in the other three in high class company. However, he has shown no form on the expected good ground but if he handles it he will be in the shake-up; likewise, Lord Windemere who is three from five.
Gigginstown have four declared in the 14-runner field and Davy Russell has chosen the Tony Martin-trained Savello. This fellow’s second to Dylan Ross here in October on good ground puts him in with a shout. He went on to win his next two starts, albeit on soft ground before he was pulled up in Gowran Park on heavy ground a couple of weeks ago.
Ruby Walsh gets the leg up on Turban who won on his first start back in November on soft/heavy ground but hasn’t shown a lot in three subsequent starts when a beaten favourite twice. It could be that he needs better ground.
Noel Meade’s TEXAS JACK was a winner of his first three starts, the first two on good ground, before he came up against some very good horses on ground that was probably not in his favour. The fact that Paul Carbery would appear to have chosen him over Ipsos du Berlais is a plus and he may be good value in what is a very tricky race to call.
The feature of the day is the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup at 4.30pm. Seven have been declared for this famous race run over 2m4f.
Having walked the course on Thursday, connections are satisfied that the season’s top novice Flemenstar can take his chance and it’s hard to oppose him.
Call The Police looks the pick of the two Mullins runners and will have no problem with the trip. Rathlin has improved significantly since learning to settle and has won all his three starts since Christmas; the ground shouldn’t be a problem for this good-actioned horse.
However it’s hard to oppose FLEMENSTAR who is made the selection to make it another great day for his sporting owner Stephen Curran who has refused significant offers for the horse, his legendary trainer Peeter Casey, and jockey of the season Andrew Lynch. The punters from Fingal and Meath will roar the stand down if he’s in front after the last.
For regular racing updates, follow @whiteflagman on Twitter.