The Willie Mullins duo of Footpad and Invitation Only, early
favourites for the Arkle Chase and the JLT Novices’ Chase at next week’s
Cheltenham Festival, head a stellar entry for the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup on
the opening day of the Fairyhouse Easter Festival on Sunday, April 1.
There are 37 entries, an increase of 13 on last year, for
the €100,000 event for which Mullins is responsible for 18 as he bids for a
first win in the race. Gordon Elliott is one up on the champion trainer in this
regard as he was successful with Realt Mor in 2013. He has made 10 entries
including his Grade 1-winning mare Shattered Love and the Grade 2 winners
Monbeg Notorious, Jury Duty and Dounikos.
Petit Mouchoir is expected to give Footpad most to do in
next Tuesday’s Arkle Chase and he has been entered by Henry De Bromhead while
Jessica Harrington has nominated her recent Thurles winner Jett and Noel Meade,
successful with Road To Respect last year, has Snow Falcon.
There are four entries from Britain with Modus and Movewiththetimes
possible runners for Paul Nicholls. Acting Lass and North Hill Harvey could
represent trainers Harry Fry and Dan Skelton respectively.
The Fairyhouse Easter Festival will go a long way to
determining the destination of this season’s National Hunt trainers’
championship and both Mullins and Elliott will also be keen for success in the
Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle which has attracted an
entry of 29 horses, up seven on 2017.
Mullins again looks to hold the strongest hand in the
€100,000 event and his contingent of 12 boasts Laurina, an odds-on favourite
for next Thursday’s Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and
leading juvenile hurdler Stormy Ireland. Lackaneen Leader heads a trio of
entries from Gordon Elliott while High School Days and Alletrix have been
entered by Henry De Bromhead and Jessica Harrington respectively.
There are six entries from British-based trainers with Nicky
Henderson entering both Countister and Dame De Compagnie. Fergal O’Brien has Cap
Soleil entered up while Dan Skelton, Emma Lavelle and Anthony Honeyball could
be represented by Momella, Woolstone One and Midnight Tune respectively.
Nessa Joyce, Irish EBF Manager, said: “The Irish EBF always
maintain a strong focus on mares’ races and its very encouraging to see such
great entries for the €100,000 Irish EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Final. This year,
the Irish EBF will allocate €550,000 exclusively to over 150 National Hunt
races and half of this allocation is solely for mares’ races.”
Peter Roe, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, said: “We
are delighted with the strength and depth of entries for both the Ryanair Gold
Cup and Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle. It is especially pleasing to
see multiple entries from leading British trainers Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls,
Harry Fry and Dan Skelton and we look forward to them taking on the best
Ireland has to offer.”