Irish racing fans starved of National Hunt racing in the main for the last two weeks due to the persistent freezing weather, received bad news and good news on Monday with the abandonment (again) of the Punchestown fixture that was scheduled to stage the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase, writes Elliot Slater.
That, of course, was the bad news. The good news, is that the four-time re-arranged Fairyhouse fixture that is now scheduled to take place on Wednesday, has stepped in to save the race and has agreed to add it to what is already a potentially outstanding card that already includes three other Grade 1 events.
As long as the weather doesn’t take a turn for the worse, those assessing the latest horse racing tips believe that Fairyhouse is set to present an eight-race card that as well as the ‘John Durkan’ will include the Royal Bond Novices’ Hurdle, the Drinmore Novices’ Chase, and the feature Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, where live Cheltenham Champion Hurdle contenders Solwhit, Hurricane Fly, Donna’s Palm and Voler Le Vadette, take each other on.
Time and again the Fairyhouse card has been planned, abandoned and re-scheduled, and it is testament to the quality of the racing in question that the Irish authorities and the executive at Fairyhouse are determined not to let these key events in the 2010/11 racing calendar be lost without doing everything in their power to save them.
The Drinmore Novices’ Chase is another race sure to add plenty of racegoers to the gate, with the prospect of the high-class Mikael D’Haguenet’s chasing debut worth travelling a long way, (despite the weather), to see. Willie Mullins’ triple Grade 1 winner hasn’t been seen since trouncing Cousin Vinny at the Punchestown Festival in May 2009, but is reported to have schooled well and is a leading Cheltenham Festival fancy.