A select field of twelve runners are schedule to contest this year’s renewal of this Grade A Chase run over an extended two miles. The race is usually well suited to mud larks as the race is often run on at least soft ground. There has only been one instance in the last ten renewals of the race being run on anything described as good. It usually takes about four-and-a-half minutes to run and Gordon Elliott has a recent prolific record winning three of the last six renewals.
Recent statistics suggest you don’t want to be carrying much more than eleven stone to win this, however it is worth bearing in mind that Golden Silver won it in 2010 carrying near twelve stone as Native Commander in 2003. I have gone through the individual runners to highlight their chances of success below:
Dunvegan is trained by Pat Fahy. The ten-year-old gelding has twelve pounds more on his back this year and just has not been in the same form coming into the race. He has been placed in eight of his thirteen chases so far (including winning three of them). He looked completely out of his depth against Edwardstone at Sandown in the Tingle Creek and this looks too high a handicap mark for him. Whilst he is expected to do much better here, it’s difficult to make a winning case for him. A five-pound claimer on board will offset some of that top-weight but he needs certain circumstances to go his way in order to follow up the win from last year.
Andy Dufresne is trained by Gordon Elliott. The nine-year-old has always promised to deliver but rarely has. He has only won two races from nine starts over the bigger fences and was a far better hurdler. He was beaten a long way at Leopardstown behind Blue Lord just after Christmas in a Grade One and although this is a step back down, serious reservations remain. The irony is that his handicap mark is not falling and he is paying the price. He pulled up on his only other previous visit here so not one to rely on.
Fan De Blues is trained by Willie Mullins. The eight-year-old son of Poliglote just doesn’t seem to like Fairyhouse. He has completed on both previous visits here but fourteen and twenty lengths respectively. A ten-length win at Cork on his seasonal reappearance is about as good as he is and he was trounced by the re-opposing Sil Ver Klass here most recently. Despite the booking of Daryl Jacob, the yard looks to have a better opportunity with another runner and he is preferred.
Epson Du Houx appreciates underfoot conditions and has won three of his nine chases to date. Running in the familiar colours of Gigginstown Stud, the Henry De Bromhead representative still looks to be improving. There was no disgrace in finishing second to Energumene at Cork last time and he has to rate as a live danger with the brilliant Rachael Blackmore on his back. She has won on him three times previously at trips just shy of this and they are shortlisted.
Mt Leinster is trained by Willie Mullins. He has picked up two wins and four places from just eight starts over fences so he has already proven himself a better chaser than hurdler. Paul Townend gets the leg up on the nine-year-old who has run well on each of his three previous visits to Fairyhouse. This extended two-mile trip on soft ground will not be an issue and having run so well on his seasonal reappearance behind Sil Ver Klass, he can reverse that form now that he is fully fit. Willie Mullins has won this race three times since 2006 and he could well have the trophy back on his fireplace at the end of the day here.
Castlegrace Paddy is also trained by Pat Fahy. If he is going to win a race, it will be after a hefty break like he has had here. He has won six times following a break of at least sixty-five days and he is beginning to look dangerously well handicapped now. Bryan Cooper has partnered him to two previous Grade two wins a couple of seasons ago. They won’t mind the soft or heavy going and this trip is also fine. Given his record he has to be considered a threat to all despite his advancing years.
Battleoverdoyen is another trained by Gordon Elliott. The ten-year-old is winless since July 2021 where he saw off Ben Dundee in a race at the Galway Festival. This is not his trip at all and having pulled up behind Real Steel at Leopardstown last time, he really does give the impression that his best days are behind him. The two previous times he raced here he was beaten twenty lengths and he fell subsequently. This race just screams no and he is best avoided.
Dancing On My Own is another trained by Henry De Bromhead. The nine-year-old son of Milan is still only lightly raced but he needs to show far more enthusiasm than when being outclassed by several of these following a 240 day break last time. JJ Slevin picks up the ride but it may be an uncomfortable one. He has never won in a field of this size and looks to have plenty on his plate.
Rebel Gold is trained by Patrick Foley. Although now a ten-year-old he is a relatively sound jumper and has completed each of his last six starts over the larger obstacles. He has run at this track twice in the past without causing the judge any hassle as he was well beaten on both attempts. One win in twelve chase starts says it all and he probably needs further than this trip these days.
Cayd Boy is trained by Liz Doyle. The eight-year-old is a model of consistency but does struggle to win races. He acts on this track and has finished second, third and fourth on his three previous visits here in the past. He is one of the least exposed horses in this field and improvement cannot be ruled out. The ground will be fine and he scrapes in near the foot of the handicap here. He has to be considered on that basis.
Big Debates is trained by Robert Tyner. This ten-year-old has proven to be a revelation of late by wining decent handicaps including at this very track. The step back to approximately two miles has worked the oracle for him although he has won over much further at tracks such as Limerick and Ballinrobe. He has made the frame in seven out of eleven previous chases and it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks if he were to do so again. His confidence will be high and Phillip Enright knows exactly how to get the best out of him.
Sil Ver Klass is trained by Tony Martin. It is worth remembering that Sil Ver Klass loves this place. From his last three visits here, he has picked up two wins and a place. There has to be a massive concern following his last run at Leopardstown where he pulled up for the first time in his career. The nine-year-old has nothing to fear from these rivals and he slips in here off joint bottom weight.
Mt Leinster could well prove the one to be on here. He just gives the impression that he will come on the most from his most recent seasonal appearance and Willie Mullins has his yard in good form at present. Paul Townend is no stranger to riding winners around here and he can guide the nine-year-old home.
Epson Du Houx and Castlegrace Paddy are likely to give him most to think about while there have to be concerns over Sil Ver Klass who pulled up last time out and Battleoverdoyen who has never suggested that he has wanted a trip as short as this.
Cayd Boy 7/2
Big Debates 9/2
Mt Leinster 9/2
Epson Du Houx 13/2
Fan De Blues 7/1
Andy Dufresne 12/1
Castlegrace Paddy 12/1
Sil Ver Klass 16/1
Rebel Gold 16/1
Dancing On My Own 33/1
All odds accurate at the time of writing.