Preview Fairyhouse 2nd Dec

Sat 1st Dec 2012, 16:10

A mouthwatering afternoon in store at Fairyhouse on Sunday, with three Grade Ones kicked off by the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

Champagne Fever, Midnight Oil and Zuzka attempt to give Willie Mullins his fourth win in the last five renewals but faces stiff competition from high-class Flat recruit Minsk, as well as Jessie Harrington's progressive four-year-old Jezki.

Mullins also dominates the entries for the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle, with Zaidpour and So Young both making their seasonal reappearances.

Monksland has the edge in fitness, having returned with victory in a Down Royal Grade Two, but the one to beat is Voler La Vedette, who was disappointing when only second on her Navan comeback but she is a top-class stayer at her peak and should be coming to the boil nicely now.

Only five go to post for the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase and Tony Martin, who won the race 12 months ago with Bog Warrior, aims to follow up with Dedigout, who carries the same Gigginstown House Stud colours and couldn't have been more impressive on his fencing bow at Punchestown.

Texas Jack, Buckers Bridge, Pride Of The Artic and Arvika Ligeonniere all won their most recent races, though, and the latter might have the most potential.

The Grade Three Bar One Racing Juvenile 3-Y-O Hurdle gets proceedings under way at 12.35 and Our Conor will be fancied to supplement his easy Navan win against four similarly promising opponents.

His stablemate Action Master made a successful raid to Cheltenham in October, but reverts from hurdles for a Caffrey's Bar And Restaurant Of Batterstown Handicap Chase in which stamina will be at a premium.

Smart hurdler Our Girl Salley takes in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Handicap Chase off a comparatively lenient mark, while winning pointers Talbot Road and Thomond lock horns in a potentially informative O'Doherty's Audio & Video Production Ltd. (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.