Sunday At Fairyhouse – Five Horses to Watch

The talented Blackbow will make his handicap chase debut at Fairyhouse on Sunday.The talented Blackbow will make his handicap chase debut at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Analysis of an Exciting Card in Ireland on Sunday

There is an absence of Graded races on Sunday, but that has not stopped a barrage of intriguing declarations being made at Fairyhouse. Five horses have caught our editor’s eye and their chances and form is analysed below.

Britzka (12:50 Fairyhouse January Jumps Hurdle)

Gordon Elliott already has three well-fancied horses for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, all of whom are unbeaten so far.

Two of those, Icare Allen and Pied Piper have had just the one run, while Fil Dor now has three successes to his name, including in the Grade 2 Frank Knight Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.

Behind him in third that day was BRITZKA, another who won his debut in the juvenile ranks. The step up to Graded company possibly came a bit soon for him, but his third-placed finish was respectable enough.

He has already taken a step forward for Elliott based on his flat form and has put in the most exciting performances within this field. He could still come into the reckoning for the Festival with another good performance.

Ardhill (1:50 Fairyhouse Easter Early Bird Handicap Hurdle)

In 11 starts for Denise Foster and Gordon Elliott prior to December, ARDHILL had only once shown any kind of form when finishing third in a Limerick handicap in November 2020.

However, when sent over to Ascot last month, that all changed, as he cantered to success on the bridle off a mark 11lb higher than his Irish one. Clearly he has improved some amount, as the money behind him was telling, sending him off as 4/1 favourite.

That effort received and RPR 27lb higher than any he had achieved before. The Irish handicapper has technically raised him 18lb, but that is only 7lb higher than the mark he ran off at Ascot. You would imagine that was not simply a flash in the pan and that he should progress further.

Hardline (2:20 Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase)

Remarkably, HARDLINE has not won a race since his novice chasing days. Boxing Day marked three years since he passed the winning post in front.

He has almost exclusively competed in Graded company since and came within half-a-length of breaking his duck in Gowran Park’s PWC Champion Chase in October. He has also been second in the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase to Min.

This will be his first race in an open handicap at the age of ten. A mark of 158 is a lofty one, but Rob James’ 7lb claim will certainly help and a number of his previous runs suggest that he can at least be very competitive in this contest.

Blackbow (2:20 Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase)

If you take the superlative Energumene out of Ireland’s two-mile novice chase division from last season, then there is every chance BLACKBOW may have taken higher priority for Willie Mullins.

As it is, the now nine-year-old still managed to be placed in the Grade 1 Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival and much of his other form can be forgiven.

Aside from winning on his chase debut, he was given very heady tasks, racing in Grade 1 company three times. He fell in Leopardstown’s Racing Post Novice Chase after which he was ridden for confidence behind Energumene at Naas.

Then came his aforementioned Irish Arkle effort before he probably did not stay in the Marsh Novices’ Chase behind Chantry House. He is back over two miles in this race, with a softer surface also likely to help once more. 

Thedevilscoachman (2:50 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase)

This Beginners Chase looks very tricky to call, with both El Barra and Saint Sam intriguing runners for Willie Mullins in the early stages of their chase careers.

However, THEDEVILSCOACHMAN ran a very creditable race behind Ferny Hollow on his chase debut and may have been able to challenge for second with Coeur Sublime with a bit more room in running.

With those two rivals winning and finishing third in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase respectably, that form has been franked more than any other and while there are still some strong rivals here, none are likely to achieve anything like the level Thedevilscoachman has already faced on his debut.

Couple that with the fact he was a Listed winner as a novice hurdler, and he is the most exciting horse in the field.