Vautour heads Ryanair line up….
Champion trainer Willie Mullins has left his impressive Cheltenham Festival winner Vautour in the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday, April 5th.
A total of 18 horses remain in the €100,000 event following today’s final forfeit stage and Mullins looks to hold the strongest hand with five of those. Aside from the magnificent Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase winner Vautour, he has also left in Vroum Vroum Mag, who is unbeaten in four starts over fences, the recent Auteuil winner Gitane Du Berlais, Blood Cotil and Valseur Lido as he bids to win the race for the first time.
Tony McCoy, who will be having his final rides in Ireland at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, will be on board either course winner Noble Emperor or Gilgamboa who have been left in the race by their respective trainers Tony Martin and Enda Bolger.
Other leading contenders at this stage look to be the Noel Meade-trained Apache Stronghold, Clarcam, trained by Gordon Elliott and Colm Murphy’s Empire Of Dirt.
There is likely to be a strong British challenge for the third running of the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle. The Harry Fry-trained Bitofapuzzle and Alan King’s The Pirate’s Queen, third and fourth behind Glens Melody at the Cheltenham Festival, head the entries for the €100,000 race and they are set to be joined by Desert Queen, another trained by Fry and Peter Bowen’s Rons Dream.
A total of 18 horses remain and again Willie Mullins is strongly represented having left five in the race. Unbeaten in six starts, Morning Run heads the quintet and others that could represent the champion trainer include Uranna and the promising Gowran Park winner Whiteout.
Robert Tyner is set to run Carrigmoorna Rock and of the seven-year-old he said, “She goes for the big novice on Sunday and she seems to be in good form again. This race has been the plan for her for a while and hopefully she’ll run a big race.”
Of his runners, trainer Harry Fry said, “Bitofapuzzle has come out of Cheltenham very well and she seems to be in good order. She was only beaten a head and a neck at Cheltenham and the plan is to run at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
“It will be a competitive race and she’ll take her chance as will Desert Queen who has looked impressive winning her two novice hurdles very easily. This will represent a big step up in class for her, but there isn’t another Grade 1 mares’ novice hurdle between now and the end of the season, so she’ll run as well. Noel Fehily will ride Bitofapuzzle while I’d say Nick Scholfield will ride Desert Queen.”
Peter Roe, General Manager of Fairyhouse: “The inaugural Ryanair Gold Cup has all the ingredients required for an exciting novice chase with quality entries headed by impressive Cheltenham winner Vautour from the Willie Mullins yard. The forecast for the weekend is very positive with bright skies and no rain forecast and with the recent rain the ground should be ideal for top-class jump racing.”
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