Some big races are to take place over in Ireland throughout the Easter Weekend as Willie Mullins looks to gear his big guns out to try and cut back the £360,000 he's currently behind Gordon Elliot in the Trainers Championship. Lots of runners are currently entered in all of the big races as you’d expect so it’s certainly an interesting puzzle to piece who’s going to turn up where…
2.50 (Grade 1 Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final)
Willie Mullins has currently got half of the field here so as like many of these races there is subject to change however as things stand we could have a pretty much a rematch of the Mares Novice race at Cheltenham between Airlie Beach and Let’s Dance. Airlie Beach was mightily disappointing that day when tailed off however Let’s Dance went on to score an impressive victory. Willie has come out and said she might well go here which makes it a fascinating spectacle of which she’ll surely be hard to oppose if repeating anything like the Cheltenham run.
4.00 (Grade B Novice Handicap Chase)
A competitive looking chase here of which one runner catches me eye in Mrs Harrington’s Don’t Touch It. This one was highly fancied for the Grand Annual race at the Cheltenham Festival before not being entered and looks to of been rerouted here instead. He’s an almightily consistent sort and has only finished out of the top three once which was way back on his first ever run. If he does show up here he should certainly be there or thereabouts again. Ball D’Arc is another consistent one for Gordon Elliot, he was just beaten half a length last time out in a Grade 2 here by Ballycasey and will be another tough nut to crack. He’s also currently entered in the Ryanair Gold Cup.
4.35 (Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup)
Willie Mullins has come out and confirmed this week that the plan is to send Yorkhill here for this on Sunday and if that’s the case he’ll surely be a short price judging by the rest of the field. He travelled really well on his way to victory in the JLT at Cheltenham and if he does turn up here I can’t see him being beat, major surprise if he is. There’s not much to take him on with for what’s currently down to go. Another Mullins runner the Ricci owned Townshed put in a nice round of jumping on his return to action when winning by 19 lengths at Naas. Henry De Bromheads Some Plan was sixth behind Altior in the Arkle at the festival before winning a Grade 1 at Leopardstown.
3.05 (Grade 3 Dr Vincent O’Brien Centenary Chase)
The 3.05 at Cork on Sunday is a Grade 3 contest over 3 miles, now the runners in many of these races are very much subject to change and that they will but there are certainly some interesting ones down to go at the moment. Grand National fancy Ucello Conti is still in this and he's almost certain not to go. One I do like who's currently in this is A Toi Phil if he is declared, he won very well last time out by eight lengths in a Grade 2 contest at Navan for Gordon Elliot and a repeat of that would certainly make him hard to beat here. He’s currently entered in the Gold Cup over at Fairyhouse too.
4.10 (Grade B Easter Handicap Hurdle)
There are currently over 30 runners entered in this which are mostly Mullins and Elliot runners but again a lot of very interesting ones. There’s a string of Ricci runners in the line up including Thomas Hobson, Cap D’Aubois and Bravissimo, there isn’t much form in any of these three Thomas Hobson would probably be the peak of them on his old hurdle form of last season but was tailed off in the Coral Cup at the festival before being pulled up at Navan before that. Mullins also has Allblak Des Places, Pique Sous and The Paparrazi Kid. Gordon Elliot currently has Jeannot De Nonant, Automated, Sire Du Berlais and Carrig Cathal. I’ve always thought more of Automated than he’s ever really shown on the racecourse. He did however win at Navan before finishing down the field at Cheltenham and I still believe there’s progression in this one, he might just run close in this if he shows up.