Ruby Walsh riding Vautour clear the second last to win The JLT Novices’ Steeple Chase at Cheltenham in March. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Willie Mullins-trained novice already favourite for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup

Ryan Moore: could be set to assume a prominent role for Ballydoyle in 2015. Photograph: Inpho

Former British champion jockey to ride Aidan O’Brien’s classic entry War Envoy

Barry Geraghty won last year’s Boylesports Irish Grand National on Shutthefrontdoor. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

Up to three reserves could be included should horses pull out by Sunday deadline

 Tony McCoy has hinted he could retire immediately if he wins the Aintree Grand National. Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Barry Geraghty, Davy Russell, Bryan Cooper and Mark Walsh are all unavailable

Justin Gatlin of USA celebrates after he won gold in the men’s 100 Metres final on August 7th, 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images.

Nike’s decision to sponsor Justin Gatlin shows that ultimately, it’s all about the bottom line

Bill Farrell’s Ramone ridden by Shane Foley (second right) on the way to winning the  Park Express Stakes at the Curragh. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Outsider at 100/1 in Park Express Stakes represents first Group victory for Bill Farrell

Aidan O’Brien receiving the champion trainer award for 2014. “The reality is that Joseph found making 9st last year very difficult and he’s heavier this year,” said O’Brien.

Jockey struggling to make the 9st weight to ride Gleneagles in the 2,000 Guineas

Trainer Dermot Weld: “He rode Hisaabaat for me at Cheltenham and I was very impressed with everything about him. . . . He’s a young guy with a big future.” Photo: Frank Miller.

Young jockey hoping to guide topweight Stuccodor to victory in the Lincolnshire

Flemenstar winning the Fortria Chase in 2013. He will make his first appearance since then in Saturday’s Webster Cup at Navan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Strong list of festival rides ensures he is likely to overhaul the injured Mark Walsh

Pat Smullen celebrates winning the  tote.com Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh last year. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Last horse to claim back-to-back successes in the Curragh race was Beauford in 1945-46

Neil Mulholland will be looking for a new jockey for The Druids Nephew at Aintree due to Barry Geraghty’s recent injury.  Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

JP McManus’s Cheltenham winner has a choice of Grand Nationals for his next start

Joseph O’Brien on board Australia winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh last June. This year sees the 150th renewal of the celebrated race. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

HRI confirm €55m plan to redevelop the Curragh by 2018 remains on schedule

 Even Ireland’s eventual success can’t erase how that last day was an aberration in a Six Nations Championship of mostly rutting muscularity. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Taking the ‘physicality’ out of rugby is like taking hurleys off hurlers

Foxrock trainer Ted Walsh gave evidence in thefirst enquiry into the horses lack of shoes at Punchestown.

Racing body officials hope new enquiry on the Ted Walsh-trained horse can be dealt with on April 18th

Sole Power enjoyed a career best season in 2014 when Richard Hughes rode him to win the Kings Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe. Photograph: Inpho

Eddie Lynam’s star sprinter targets win at fifth attempt at Dubai World Cup

Davy Russell celebrates winning the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle on Windsor Park at Cheltenham. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Jockey out for about six weeks with broken arm after losing Lord Windermere ride

Don Cossack will be entered in the three-mile Betfred Bowl at Aintree. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Gigginstown Stud team hope their star chaser has better luck than at Cheltenham

Jockey Adrian Heskin riding  Foxrock to victory in the BoyleSports Handicap Steeplechase at Leopardstown in January.   Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Trainer Ted Walsh says he will answer any questions arising from race in December

Hurricane Fly and Paul Townsend with trainer Willie Mullins at Cheltenham last week. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Return to Auteuil in June on the cards for the Grade 1 record-breaking superstar

  England cricket coach Peter Moores’s  unfortunate blurted promise “to look at the data” for reasons behind losing to Bangladesh in the World Cup has cued up much soul-searching about what the correct approach to the game should be. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Stats and figures are ultimately only as helpful or unhelpful as an individual chooses them to be

Jim Dreaper: the Co Dublin trainer’s National record over the decades includes the sole Irish trained winner of a Welsh Grand National – Notre Pere – and four in his local Fairyhouse version. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Goonyella looks to be ideal candidate for a four-mile-plus marathon on heavy ground

Trainer Willie Mullins shares a joke with jockey Luke Dempsey after   Killultagh Vic’s victory in the   Conditional Jockeys Hurdle  on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Carlow trainer is champion for fourth time but Gold Cup eludes him once again

Jockey Nico de Boinville and Coneygree led from the start to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the festival. photograph: adrian dennis

Despite record-breaking week, Mullins has to settle for second in blue riband for the fifth time

Nina Carberry is led back in after winning on board On the Fringe. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

No fairytale farewell for McCoy as Ned Buntline is fourth in the Grand Annual

AP McCoy on the way to victory with Uxizandre in the  The Ryanair Steeplechase at Cheltenham. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty

Champion jockey leads from the front throughout to claim Ryanair Chase on 16-1 chance

Barry Geraghty on board Bobs Worth. The 2013 Gold Cup winner has been beaten just once in six Cheltenham starts overall. Photograph: Donall Farmer

Softer going could play into the hands of a triple festival winner who can reclaim racing’s blue riband

Tony McCoy celebrates winning the Hennessy Gold Cup onboard Carlingford Lough who now bids for Gold Cup glory. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Veteran trainer has overseen a steady improvement in his popular Gold Cup hope

Runners and riders race up the straight in front of packed stands on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Naming rights not an issue as soft favours Ruby Walsh’s mount ahead of Ned Buntline

Ruby Walsh on Vautour on his way to winning the 13.30 JLT Novices’ Chase on Day Three of Cheltenham. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters.

Champion trainer already looking to 2016 Gold Cup for JLT Chase winner

Sandra Hughes (second from right) at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival after Lieutenant Colonel won The Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle with (from left) Michael O’Leary, Eddie O’Leary, Squared Financial CEO Youssef Barakat, Anita O’Leary and jockey Bryan Cooper. Photograph: James Crombie

Hughes hoping Lieutenant Colonel and The Tullow Tank can help do her late father proud

Don Cossack profits from Champagne Fever’s mistake in Thurles in one of four wins from four starts this season. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Triple-course winner John’s Spirit may offer the value given his Cheltenham record

Abbyssial and Ruby Walsh after a crushing fall during last year’s JCB Triumph Hurdle. Photo: David Davies

Vautour and Champagne James in with a big shout for the Irish contingent on Day Three

Trainer Gary Moore’s faith in  Sire de Grugy is restored after a footperfect performance at Chepstow last month and he goes out with ’a serious chance’ in today’s feature race at Cheltenham. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Three former winners to go to the line in a clash of champions ‘festooned with ifs’

Don Poli will carry the hopes of Gigginstown in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Windsor Park could be the answer in opening Neptune Novices Hurdle

 Sizing Europe will have the support of the crowd as he lines out for his fifth Queen Mother Champion Chase today.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

There’s more than sentiment behind Sizing Europe’s fifth tilt at the two-mile crown

Annie Power with Ruby Walsh: Looks a class above the opposition in the OLBG Mares’ hurdle. Her stable companion Glens Melody poses perhaps the biggest threat. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

But it’s difficult to oppose any one of Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power

Champion amateur rider Patrick Mullins at his father’s training yard at Closutton, near Leighlinbridge. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Enviable book of rides leaves the champion amateur poised for success at Cheltenham this week

A racegoer checks a selfie he took with Faugheen, the favourite to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Ruby Walsh’s decision to switch from proven Hurricane Fly to stable-mate is revealing

Davy Russell: will be hoping to defend his Gold Cup crown with Lord Windermere at Cheltenham this week.  Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fine Rightly claims Grade Three novice chase in style for trainer Stuart Crawford

In the parade ring at the festival last year. Photograph: Joe Giddens

One of racing’s best-known faces is set for battle with a top-class team and one specific aim – to win the race he sponsors himsel(...)

View during Cheltenham Festival 2014. Scepticism of tips and claims made by bookmakers are two of the rules to follow at this year’s event, according to Brian O’Connor. File photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Beware of tips, ignore bookmaker claims and other rules to live by at this year’s event

Barry Geraghty: is an 8-1 second favorite to be leading rider at Cheltenham next week. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Tony Martin-trained runner a stand-out prospect in Grade Three novice chase

Lieutenant Colonel ridden by Bryan Cooper on his way to winning the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last December. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

Quicker ground at Cheltenham may the Curragh-trained horse

Willie Mullins at the gallops at his Closutton headquarters in Carlow. He will bring a formidable 50-strong team to Cheltenham. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

No other trainer has ever brought as powerful a team to National Hunt’s top festival

Jockey Mark Walsh on board Kitten Rock clears the last hurdle ahead of  Glens Melody (David Casey) at Naas in January. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

JP McManus’s ‘second-string’ to line up with holder Jezki for Tuesday’s highlight

 Connections of On the Fringe (Nina Carberry) seen here conceding to Tammys Hill (Robbie McNamara) at Leopardstown last month, are hoping for drying ground at Cheltenham next week. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ryanair Chase opens up with defection of Cue Card

Supasundae wining at Ascot for Barry Geraghty in December. Johnny Burke takes up the ride  for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst

Supasundae has the class to deliver Waterford trainer’s third success

Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper etc. Inpho.

Duo in search of pre-festival confidence at Downpatrick

Manny Pacquiao’s enthusiasm to get into the ring with Floyd Mayweather may not be entirely unrelated to a $75 million tax bill. Photograph: Joseph Agcaoili/AFP/Getty Images

‘Fight of the Century’ pales in comparison with rivalries gone by

Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan: “Events in the past year have highlighted the importance of providing a facility for anyone who has information they wish to report in a confidential manner.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Confidential hotlines set up to receive information on doping and other issues

Barry Connell: looking forward to Cheltenham this year following last year’s disappointments. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Seven year old could be bound for Cheltenham if victorious at Leopardstown

 Paul Townend on Hurricane Fly: the jockey is already widely presumed likely to end up riding his old ally in the Champion Hurdle. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Willie Mullins’ number two jockey could benefit from strength of visiting squad

Leopardstown chief executive Pat Keogh

Pre-Cheltenham workout has been moved to avoid clashing with Six Nations match

Paul Townend on Hurricane Fly alongside Champagne Fever at Willie Mullins’ yard in Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Champion trainer overseeing the final preparation of up to 50 horses

Willie Mullins has expressed his desire to  nail a Cheltenham Gold Cup win after several near misses.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Could this be the year the Bagenalstown trainer captures the one that has eluded him?

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD: He  wants the semi-state HRI to control revenue streams and dole out a budget to the Turf Club. Dara Mac Donaill

Minister Coveney’s proposals regarding body’s financial dependence on the semi-state HRI deemed unaccepable

Arctic Skipper, ridden by Andrew Lynch, leads the field home to win the he Paddy Power Shops 10.30am Sunday Service Maiden Hurdle at Naas. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Lean Araig wins Grade Two novice hurdle as Robbie Colgan earns four-day ban

Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan criticised the Department of Agriculture for a lack of communication. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Government says Turf Club independence is protected by the proposed racing legislation

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland: ‘The board is satisfied there will be no impact on regulation.’ Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Kavanagh believes Turf Club is wrong on Horse Racing Ireland Amendment Bill

 Willie Mullins: Up For Review is already at the forefront his  hopes for the Champion Bumper. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Willie Mullins-trained pair will aim to impress at Naas

The Horse Racing Ireland Amendment Bill will be put before the Dáil in June. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.

Regulatory body informs department sections on point-to-point will be challenged

Willie Mullins: has seven of the 11 entries left in the Paddy Power flat race at Naas on Sunday.

Several of Willie Mullins’s festival bumper team in action at Naas

Vigil (far right) finishes fifth behind stable companion Silver Concorde in last year’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.

Ireland’s champion flat jockey to try and finally win at Cheltenham festival

Trainer Enda Bolger has high hopes for Gilgamboa despite loss at Navan.

Trainer has doubts about Cheltenham for JP McManus-owned star

The idea of Woods giving up golf is ridiculous. Even if never breaks par again, there’s still millions to be made. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Only when we see him swearing on the course do we get a sense of the real Mr Woods

Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen (above with Ruby Walsh onboard) is one of Mullins’s headline festival acts.

Top trainer hoping to go one better this year and finally land the Gold Cup

 Derek O’Connor, the first jockey to ride 1,000 point-to-point winners in Ireland. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Sire de Grugy could make quick return at Chepstow

Champagne Fever, ridden by Ruby Walsh, on the way to beating My Tent Or Yours ridden by Tony McCoy to win the William Hill Supreme Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2013. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

On peak form the versatile grey looks a standout in the Grade Two Red Mills Trial

Henry de Bromhead said that Sizing Europe is in good form and is being trained towards Cheltenham. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Faugheen to swerve Gowran and head straight to Champion Hurdle

Ruby Walsh makes the trip to Down Royal today for one ride on Tony Martin’s Spacious Sky. Photo credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Crawford can score local success with Ardmillan

Hurricane Fly will be bidding to relive the glory of his 2013 Champion Hurdle win at next month’s Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Handicapper believes top rated hurdler has the form to topple reigning champion Jezki

 Barry Connell: “We were very happy with him. It was a super run, his jumping is very good now and he battled away all the way to the line.”

‘We’ll keep an open mind. In an ideal world you’d go next year when he is eight, but it’s a nice dilemma to have’

 Trainer Liz Doyle’s Cheltenham hopes were  shattered with the loss of  Le Vent D’Antan at Leopardstown on Sunday, but she has an able  deputy in Kauto Grand Mogul. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Grade 3 victory would be consolation for trainer Liz Doyle

10. Cork man thinks he’s right and everyone else is wrong. Really? This is news? Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.

‘Roy Keane’: former ‘talisman’ now a ‘world class’ cause of ‘online furore’

Tony McCoy enters the parade ring aboard Carlingford Lough after winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Champion jockey wins race for first time 24 hours after announcing retirement

Apache Stronghold and Paul Carberry lead home Valseur Lido ridden by Bryan Cooper to win the Flogas Chase at Leopardstown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

Perfect timing as Paul Carberry helps ‘big hope’ home in exciting Flogas Novice Chase

John Kiely: ‘It was a great finish and it was special to have AP – he gave him a peach of a ride. He’s a hell of a fellah – we’d have him again!’ Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Carlingford Lough has a ‘live chance’ at Cheltenham Gold Cup, says Tony McCoy

Tony McCoy’s addiction to winning and fear of not doing the job properly has fuelled the jockey’s phenomenal career. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The 40-year-old will retire from the sport he dominated at the end of the season

Tony McCoy, seen here with  the Champion Jump Jockey trophy at Sandown Racecourse,   has announced he is to retire from racing at the end of the season. Photograph:  Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

‘Idea of him indulging in something so human and mundane as retirement is hard to process’

Danny Mullins will ride  Vroum Vroum Mag in the Opera Hat Chase for his uncle. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Danny Mullins will also ride Blood Cotil in the Beginners Chase against Gilt Shadow

Paul Carberry on Apache Stronghold is held off by Ruby Walsh onboard Vautouri at last year’s Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Photograph: Inpho

Veteran jockey’s best Grade One bet at Leopardstown is the Flogas Novice Chase

Jockey Ruby Walsh on board Boston Bob: Walsh has opted to ride On His Own in the Hennessy Gold Cup, with Paul Townend riding Boston Bob. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jockey chooses in-form horse over Boston Bob for Leopardstown’s big race

The ex-French mare Vroum Vroum Mag, seen here winning  at Thurles last month, may  bid to extend her unbeaten record in Ireland to four at Naas on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Down Royal postponed, Clonmel facing 8am inspection, but no problems expected at Naas or Leopardstown this weekend

Trainer Willie Mullins has two in contention for Hennessy honours and jockey Ruby Walsh may opt for the younger Boston Bob (above) over the 11-year-old On His Own. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Champion trainer’s two runners are best-priced 4-1 joint-favourites

Snow  and heavy frost could cause problems for Irish racing fixtures this week. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Down Royal tomorrow uncertain, Clonmel partly frozen, but Leopardstown ‘not unduly concerned’

Davy Russell celebrates winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Lord Windermere. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Cheltenham Gold Cup champion hoping to land Hennessy at Leopardstown on Sunday

Trainer Willie Mullins. “Willie looks as if he could have his most successful week ever at Cheltenham and looks to have some fantastic ammunition, particularly on the first day.” Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Firm offering 16-1 for Mullins having 10 or more winners at Cheltenham

Hidden Cyclone, ridden by Andrew McNamara, moved up to the winner’s enclosure in the Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Impressive bumper winner General Principle unlikely to go to Cheltenham

Great expectations ahead of Six Nations and World Cup. Photograph: Eric Luke Staff Photographer

But for the punter: right now I still wouldn’t put a cent on Ireland at 1-5 to beat Italy

Trainer Willie Mullins is keeping some cards close to his chest in relation to Sunday’s Hennessy card. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Boston Bob and On His Own on course for Hennessy next Sunday

 Gitane Du Berlais, seen here winning the Solerina last year under Paul Townend, aims for Grade 1 success at Sandown today, while the Mullins stable has two mares lined up to take on her mantle in the Fairyhouse feature. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Gitane Du Berlais graduates to a bid for Grade 1 glory at Sandown

Bryan Cooper looks to have made the right choice in Aminabad in the Listed Novice Hurdle. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Cooper can get it right this time on Aminabad

Unlike in previous winters, Punchestown has had no ground frost this year, so tomorrow’s card is not expected to be disrupted, according  racing manager Richie Galway. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mild winter has mean no accumulation of frosts leading to frozen ground

Willie Mullins’ Black Hercules is lined-up for the Listed Irish Stallion Owners Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Hidden Cyclone to test Queen Mother credentials in Tied Cottage Chase

Ruby Walsh guiding Un De Sceaux to victory in the Arkle Novices Stepplechase at Leopardstown last weekend. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ruby Walsh has no fears Cheltenham occasion will trouble free-wheeling Un De Sceaux

Road to Riches: enjoyed a big-race hot streak last summer prior to December’s Lexus Chase triumph. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Don Cossack and a strong novice team among up to 20 runners for Gigginstown

Jezki (right), ridden by Tony McCoy, lost out to Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh in the Irish Champion Hurdle but is set to defend his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Hidden Cyclone could use Punchestown as warm-up for Champion Chase

The Graham Wylie owned On His Own is  joint-favourite with stablemate Boston Bob for the Hennessy Gold Cup, both  coming from  Willie Mullins’s yard. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

If successful the achievement will equal Tom Dreaper’s tally in the Irish Grand National

Does anyone believe Ireland rugby internationals don’t contain a special general resonance for the people of Ireland?

It’s hard to stomach the platitudes organisations come out with when presenting money-grabs as something more worthy

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