HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Sunday Irish Preview: Hatton's Grace the Fairyhouse highlight
Nic Doggett previews the three Grade 1 races set to take place on an excellent card at Fairyhouse on Sunday, which includes the Hatton's Grace.
Three Grade 1s punctuate one of the best afternoons of the year at Fairyhouse on Sunday, with Vroum Vroum Mag the star on show in the feature Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at 13:40. Faugheen may have numbered among the initial clutch of Willie Mullins entries, however only Shaneshill and Whiteout join their stablemate in the final line-up. Vroum Vroum Mag is unbeaten since coming over from France, her wins last season including the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last time. This is no penalty kick, however.
Apple’s Jade produced an exceptional performance to beat Ivanovich Gorbatov by 41 lengths in the Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree in April and followed up in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown. After a disappointing reappearance at Down Royal she then looked unlucky not to win when a nose second to Irving in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle last time, hampered and losing momentum three out. Ivanovich Gorbatov beat Apple’s Jade in the Triumph Hurdle but has not progressed since, and a bigger threat to Vroum Vroum Mag could be stablemate Shaneshill who should be sharper for his third in the Lismullen Hurdle last month.
The race preceding the Hatton’s Grace is the Royal Bond at 13:10. Willie Mullins has won four of the last six renewals (saddled the runner-up on the other two occasions) and he relies on three runners this year. Ruby Walsh rides the former Luca Cumani-trained (and BHA 100-rated on the Flat) Penhill, who has won four of his five starts over hurdles, reportedly bleeding when well-below form at Killarney in July. He was impressive when completing his hat-trick at Tipperary last time, though stablemates Saturnas, a ready winner on his hurdling debut at Naas, and five-time winner Airlie Beach (twice under Walsh), are respected. Labaik is something of a character but he has put his best foot forward of late and appears to have taken well to hurdling, while Peace News looks the pick of the four-year-olds based on his smooth hurdles win at Cork on his Irish/hurdling debut last month. He was fairly useful on Flat for Francois Rohaut and looks the type to improve.