Cracking contest in store at Fairyhouse on Saturday as mares take centre stage

De Bromhead and Mullins prepare to go toe-to-toe in the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle

Friday, January 24, 2020

Minella Melody toppled Gordon Elliott's Mount Ida at Punchestown in December

The Grade 3 Eco Friendly Cups Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday, named after the Bowe family's crack mare Solerina – an 18-time winner over hurdles that included five scores at Grade 1 level – has been won by many smart performers in recent years, writes Tony O’Hehir.

Limini, Shattered Love, Laurina and the unbeaten Honeysuckle, who was successful 12 months ago, all feature on the roll of honour and connections of the last-named mare seek further success this time around.

Trainer Henry De Bromhead, owner Kenneth Alexander and jockey Rachael Blackmore are represented by Minella Melody, who will be bidding to make it three from three over hurdles following a maiden win at Cork and a Listed race success at Punchestown last month.

De Bromhead said of the six-year-old, who has to concede weight to her six rivals: "Minella Melody is in good form. We're very happy with her and hope she gives a good account again."

Willie Mullins supplies three of Minella Melody's rivals in the shape of Yukon Lil, Colreevy and Dolcita, all of whom are maiden hurdle winners.

Stable jockey Paul Townend has chosen Yukon Lil, a 12-length winner on her hurdles debut at Naas last month.

Taking on the older brigade is four-year-old French import Gin On Lime, a nine-length winner at Clairefontaine in July on her only start before joining Jessica Harrington.

Sean O'Keeffe's mount receives between 14lb and 20lb from her rivals and, speaking on Saturday, Harrington said: "We like her. She's a very nice filly. What she has done has pleased us, but we're very much on a learning curve with her and we're going to learn a good bit more about her tomorrow."

The most recent winner in the line-up is the Robert Murphy-trained Darrens Hope, who landed a 2m4f maiden hurdle at Punchestown ten days ago.

Global Equity, a bumper winner who has finished in the money on her two starts over hurdles for Joseph O'Brien, completes the line-up.

Minella Melody is in good form. We're very happy with her and hope she gives a good account again.
- Henry De Bromhead

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