Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Sunday; Flemenstar in the 4:30 at Fairyhouse and Earls Quarter in the 2:55 at Fairyhouse. Compare odds and bet.
Runaway Irish Arkle winner Flemenstar (4:30) can light up the opening day of Fairyhouse’s Irish Grand National meeting by taking the day’s feature, the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup for trainer Peter Casey.
The seven-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength over fences this season and arrives here on a five-timer and having already achieved a rating of 157.
Andrew Lynch’s mount has to date only raced on soft or heavy going, so today’s decent ground is a slight concern, but he ran a decent race when fourth at this fixture last year and he is well worth a try on it.
His full brother Barafundle won a bumper and a novice on good ground for Jennie Candlish and, if he handles it, he’ll confirm himself the leading Irish novice chaser of the season. The selection was trading at 11/8 early Saturday evening and that seems more than fair.
Earlier on the card the Grade 2 novice hurdle is a really competitive affair and there isn’t an awful lot between all the runners judged on the official ratings.
Lyreen Legend did us a good turn when winning at Thurles last month, but he has to give weight away all round and the one I’m prepared to take a chance on at the prices is Earls Quarter (2:55).
Two from two over hurdles last August, the son of Shantou hasn’t been seen since so has a fairly lengthy absence to overcome, but it could be that connections have been waiting for this better ground.
The six-year-old looked a smart prospect when hacking up on debut at Sligo and he followed up by lowering the colours of the smart Rebel Fitz at Galway. The runner-up won his next two before giving Mount Benbulben a race in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle in November, so the form is strong despite being a summer contest.
Ruby Walsh has presumably chosen stable-companion Turban over him, but Willie Mullins won this race with a supposed second string last year in the shape of Lambro and, if the champion trainer has him wound up for his return, Earls Quarter could surprise a few by outrunning those odds of 20/1.
Texas Jack is another that I have healthy respect for in the same contest, as he’s been crying out for a return to a right-handed track and he will also appreciate the better ground. He is also of interest around the 12/1 mark, but the each-way nod goes the way of the unbeaten Earls Quarter.
2:55 Fairyhouse Earls Quarter (each-way 20/1 Boylesports)
4:30 Fairyhouse Flemenstar (6/5 BetVictor)
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- AL FEROF won Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-1
- BENSALEM won Stewart Family Handicap 5-1
- BOBS WORTH won A Bartlett 15-8, 4/4 for year
- CAPTAIN CHRIS won Arkle Trophy 6-1
- FIRST LIEUTENANT won Neptune Investment 7-1
- (plus Grade 1 in Ireland 16-1)
- JAMES DE VASSY won Lanzarote Hurdle 8-1
- LONG RUN won King George 9-2, Gold Cup 7-2
- OSCAR WHISKY won Aintree Hurdle 6-1
- Peddlers Cross (Fighting Fifth Hurdle)
- Medermit (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)
- FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Maghull Novices’ Chase)
- WISHFULL THINKING (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)