Gowran and Leopardstown optimistic as weather looks like easing its grip
RACING:Yesterday’s Fairyhouse card may have had to be cancelled but the weather looks like easing its grip ahead of this week’s big-race action which is set to wind up with Hurricane Fly’s hat-trick attempt in Sunday’s BHP Irish Champion Hurdle.
Before that Gowran Park hosts its prestigious Goffs Thyestes Chase fixture on Thursday. And course officials aren’t anticipating any problems from the cold snap.
“The course is heavy but daytime temperatures are expected to rise to five or six degrees during daytime hours and I think we’ll be fine,” said Gowran manager Eddie Scally yesterday.
Leopardstown’s team are similarly optimistic about a full weekend programme, which includes the Boylesports Hurdle on Saturday and winds up with the first Grade One card of 2013 the following day.
There is uncertainty about precise weather forecasts in the days ahead. But Leopardstown manager Pat Keogh is confident there will be no repeat of the near 2½ inch deluge of rain that fell on the Dublin course through Thursday night and Friday.
“There’s no doubt 60mms is a lot. But the drainage work we have had done has worked very well and there are only bits and pieces of rain expected now,” he said. “The champion hurdle horses will be running on ground that hasn’t been raced on for a year and the last three furlongs is ground that we have done a big job on in terms of redraining. I certainly don’t anticipate any problems with the weekend at this stage.”
Hurricane Fly will be the undoubted star attraction of a weekend that also includes Sunday’s Grade One Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Chase and Keogh hoping the difficulties racing is having in the UK could yet result in some late additions to Sunday’s card.
“It has already been stated Binocular is coming for the champion and if we can facilitate owners and trainers in giving horses the opportunity to run here we will obviously be happy to help,” he said. “And the opportunity is still there to supplement into the race.”
Willie Mullins gave an upbeat report on Hurricane Fly who has won both his starts to date this season and is pursuing a rare hat-trick in Ireland’s premier hurdles prize.
Istabraq remains out on his own in Irish Champion Hurdle history with four-in-a-row between 1998 and 2001. But only four others have landed back-to-back renewals including Hurricane Fly in 2011 and 2012.
Bookmakers reckon he is odds-on to achieve a singular position in the roll of honour by becoming a hat-trick hero.