Anticipate, Expect, Believe!
The finale of the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing, Saturday the 1st of November will soon be upon us and it has a list of entries some of whom are sure to be seen in March…Cheltenham anyone? It is a card that is understated but overachieves at every level.
The race card stands a Grade 1 Steeplechase whose entries would not look out of place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, supported by a highly competitive and select Grade 2 Chase and a Grade C with a large number of the country’s top rated hurdlers.
The card boasts competitive action throughout the day interspersed with feature races, some rising and unexposed horses will get the chance to make their mark over Hurdles and Chase fences, some for their first time. The day is rounded off by the traditional INH Flat Race, commonly known as the ‘bumper’! The staple of any true jumping card to end the day with a sharp thrill.
The feature Race is the Grade 1 JNWine.com Champion Steeplechase and it doesn't take a keen racing eye to see why!
Nicky Henderson sends this year’s Aintree Topham Chase winner, Ma Filleule, from his Seven Barrows Yard to contend for the title. Although it won’t be easy won; as W.P. Mullins leads the home defence, with Boston Bob, the Aintree Melling Chase winner and On His Own, the runner up in the Gold Cup standing firm on the entries list. It proves to be a full affair as another English raider targets the prize, Rocky Creek from the Paul Nicholls Ditcheat yard which is slowly awakening, dares to dabble on Irish Turf. The home side is not short-handed however with more top entries; from the Noel Meade yard the progressive Road to Riches looks set to pave the way to an exciting run and Gordon Elliott aims Don Cossack coming of a recent win at Punchestown and Roi De Mee a course and distance winner in 2013 at Down Royal towards the JNwine trophy. Yet the dark horse in the field may be the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase winner Tammys Hill, also coming into the race off a recent win. It can only be said of a true Grade 1 that a field of such top class horses line up and still it is anyone’s race!
The Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Steeplechase is set up to be a much more selective and precise test of jumping over 2m 4f, with 8 entries, 7 of whom have won or been place on their previous 2 starts.
Attracting the interest of English Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, who has 6th sense for picking the winner of this particular race, having won it on the last six consecutive occasions, he sends Wonderful Charm to try and cement his rising form after winning recently at Newton Abbot; it could be a battle to the line however as horses such as Mrs Jessica Harrington’s, Burn and Turn, the John E. Kiely trained Carlingford Lough, last seen winning the Champion Novices Grade 1 at Punchestown and W.P. Mullin’s, Paparazzi Kid, try and beat him for the photo!
A day long in the making, longer in the memory,
don’t miss a winner! Only provided by Down Royal.