By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
Three small but select fields face the starter for the three Grade One races at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
The Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1.05), the Drinmore Novices Chase (1.35) and the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2.40) should provide plenty of Christmas and Cheltenham Festival clues for punters .
Dual Cheltenham Festival and Punchestown Champion bumper winner Champagne Fever sets the standard in the novice hurdle division for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. This one trotted up on his debut at Cork but faces stiffer opposition here from Dessie Hughes’ Minsk and Jessica Harrington’s Jezki.
All three are prominent in the ante-post betting lists for the novice hurdle events Cheltenham next March with Jezki entered in the Supreme Novices Hurdles that opens the meeting while Champagne Fever and Minsk prominent in the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle on the Wednesday.
The Tony Martin-trained Dedigout (1.35) is the market leader for the Drinmore Novices Chase after a 34-length stroll over Happy New Year at Punchestown at the start of the month. The runner-up that day has franked the form when winning two hurdle races in four days at Gowran Park and Limerick last week.
Willie Mullins’ Arvika Legeonniere makes his seasonal reappearance after making a winning debut over fences at the Punchestown Festival last May while four-time chase winner Pride Of The Artic, Buckers Bridge and Texas Jack complete the field.
Last season’s Cheltenham World Hurdle runner-up Voler La Vedette looks to repeat last year’s victory in the Hatton’s Grace after getting turned over by Whatuthink at Navan on her seasonal debut earlier this month.
Willie Mullins runs So Young and Zaidpour, who beat Voler La Vedette a length in January at Gowran Park while Dessie Hughes sends out Si C’Etait Vrai.
Noel Meade’s Monksland who won at Down Royal on his seasonal reappearance and was third to Simonsig in the Neptune Investment Management Novices´ Hurdle last season could be the one to give the favourite most to do.