Today, Wednesday 7th November at Fairyhouse
Racecourse the launch of the 2018/2019 National Hunt season in County Meath
took place ahead of some major dates in the Irish National Hunt calendar.
This weekend at Navan the Grade 2 thetote.com
Fortria Chase will take centre stage, while on the 25thof November
Navan will host the prestigious Ladbrokes Troytown Chase ahead of Fairyhouse’s
Bar One Winter Racing Festival on the 1stand 2ndof
A panel of top trainers and jockeys based in Meath featured Gordon
Elliott, Noel Meade, Barry Geraghty, Sean Flanagan and Brían Kane
looked ahead to a terrific feast of jump racing in the county over the coming
Apple’s Jade, who will be chasing a hat-trick of victories in the
Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s
Grace Hurdle, was among a host of star names unveiled amongst the entries for
the trio of upcoming Grade 1’s at Fairyhouse.
Local trainer Gordon Elliott has enjoyed tremendous success at his
local tracks in recent years and he has high hopes of a big few days within the
next month. The trainer's team for two of the showpiece days in the National
Hunt calendar at Fairyhouse is headed by the extremely talented Apple’s Jade
who is on course to start off in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan this
weekend before looking to join Limestone Lad and Solerina as the only horses to
have won three renewals of the Hatton’s Grace.
“The Winter Festival has been very lucky for us in the past and we
were fortunate enough to win the three Grade 1s last year which was a day we’ll
never forget. It will be a big ask to do as well this year but we’ll give it a
go and I’d hope that we have some nice horses for each of the big races,” said
“The plan is for Apple’s Jade to head for the Hatton’s Grace and
I’m very happy with her. She’s come back from the summer in great shape and
she’s been going well at home and we’re looking forward to getting her started
in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
“She does tend to improve a good bit from her first run of the
season and our horses are needing their comeback runs this year so whatever she
does on Sunday I know there will be more to come from her.
"Obviously we've got Samcro in there as well but the plan is
for him to head for Morgiana next weekend and then we'll see where we go after
that," he added.
Willie Mullins has made typically strong entries for the Hattons
Grace Hurdle with Faugheen appearing in the 2m4f contest alongside exciting
mares Benie Des Dieux and Laurina.
In the BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novices Chase
Elliott has ten hopefuls headed by the Cheltenham Festival winners Delta Work
and Blow By Blow, both of whom recently made a winning start over fences.
“I was delighted with both of them. Blow By Blow did it well at
Galway and you’d have to be thinking in terms of the Drinmore for him and Delta
Work. I thought Delta Work did it nicely the other day and he’ll come forward a
good bit for the run and also the experience,” reported Elliott.
Curragh-based trainer Aidan Howard may seek a first ever success
in Grade 1 company as he has included two-time winner Winter Escape in the
Drinmore Novice Chase for owner JP McManus.
Last year Gordon Elliott broke the Willie Mullins stranglehold on
the BARONERACING.COM Royal
Bond Novice Hurdle and both trainers are once again well represented. This
weekend’s Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle could play a part in determining
Elliott’s plans for the race.
“At the moment Felix Desjy would look a likely candidate for the
race but he’s got to come through Navan at the weekend, it’s the intention to
run him in the For Auction. He was a very good bumper horse last season but was
just a shade too keen so I was delighted to see him settle as he did when he
won on his hurdling debut at Galway last month. Sunday will tell us more but
I’m hoping to see him progress into a high class novice hurdle,” commented the
Willie Mullins has included the highly touted Annamix among his 16
entries for the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle alongside Cheltenham's Champion Bumper
heroine Relegate, while jockey Sean Flanagan spoke of his excitement if recent
Down Royal maiden hurdle winner Brace Yourself was to line up in the Royal Bond
“Noel Meade has a stack of horses ready to go but we are just
waiting for the ground to change,” Flanagan said. “Brace Yourself looks like he
is probably a very good horse going forward and when he steps up in trip he
could be very exciting.”
Looking towards this Sunday at Navan and Barry Geraghty was
excited by the prospect of being reunited with the Enda Bolger-trained
Ballyoisin in the Fortria Chase.
“It is an exciting time of year and there is a common theme with
everyone just waiting for a bit of rain to fall. If Ballyoisin lines up I’d be
very happy to be with him in the Fortria. He still needs to step, especially if
Footpad was to run, but he is a horse going the right way,” Geraghty said.
Ahead of the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan later this month
Gordon Elliott, who ran 11 in the race last year added; “Troytown day is always
a big one for us and the race itself is one that we always like to target. I’d
hope that we have some decent chances this year and it’s a likely target for
Out Sam who was good when winning the Cork Grand National on Sunday. We bought
him in the hope that he could develop into a good handicap chaser and he looked
the part last weekend.
“It could also be a race that we will start off General Principle
for the season. He’ll be aimed at all those goo staying handicaps and this
looks an obvious race to go for. We’ve entered 15 in the race and if all 15 get
in I’d want to run all of them.”
Peter Roe, Manager of Fairyhouse said: “We are delighted today to
launch the 2018/2019 Meath National Hunt season. Last season saw many of the
stars of the jumping scene run at these tracks including Sizing John, Footpad
and Apples Jade to name just a few. This season promises to be another
fantastic jumps season at both tracks. We are particularly delighted with the
quality of entries for the Bar One Winter Festival at Fairyhouse on Saturday 1st &
Sunday 2nd December 2018, a highlight in the pre-Christmas
racing calendar building up to the highlight of the National Hunt Season, the
BoyleSports Irish Grand National.”
Peter Killeen Manager of Navan Racecourse said: “The Meath Racing
Launch has become an annual event and it really helps highlight the quality of
the National Hunt Fare on display at Navan and Fairyhouse over the winter. We
are really excited at Navan as we approach our busiest period of the year with
our Thetote.Com Fortria Chase Day next Sunday closely followed by our biggest
day of the year being The Ladbrokes Troytown Chase day on 25th of
November. We finish the year with the two December fixtures which include two
graded races on each of the days with our last race of the being the Listed
Winners Bumper. The fixtures always attract the best of our trainers and horses
and are sure to whet the appetite of all National Hunt racing fans.”
Links to entries