It’s also reassuring that every twitch of Roy Keane’s beard will keep being parsed for meaning in 2018. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

It may be the season to be jolly but there’s a still a hell of a hangover lurking

 Douvan won’t run this season, his trainer Willie Mullins announced on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Willie Mullins explainst that the horse has been ‘intermittently lame’

Jockey Davy Russell with Diamond Cauchois in the parade ring after winning the Tara Handicap Hurdle at Navan. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Trainer says he could have 100 runners in action over the hectic festive period

Ruby Walsh on board Melon. Can  Faugheen’s young stable companion be  a potential gate-crasher for the Champion Hurdle? Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho

Giant Spring to have a first start for Willie Mullins at Fairyhouse

 Trainer Colin Tizzard  on plans for Cue Card:  “We will go to the Ascot Chase, then either the Ryanair or Gold Cup and then on to Aintree. Then I will have him as my hunter.”  Photograph:  Harry Trump/Getty Images

Colin Tizzard says Cue Card to have three more runs before being retired

  Jessica Harrington and groom Ashley Hussey with Sizing John at her stables in Co Kildare. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The Irish Times / Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year continues to raise the bar

Apple’s Jade holds entries in the two-mile Ryanair Hurdle and the three-mile Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival. Photograph: Inpho

Run in three-mile Christmas hurdle to pave way for Cheltenham chance, says O’Leary

Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan:  the problem is with recreational drugs. Photograph: Inpho

Positive response to prospect of longer suspensions for jockeys testing positive for drugs

The Anti-Doping Task Force was originally set up as a response to a number of steroids controversies including that of former top trainer Philip Fenton who was disqualified from racing for three years in 2014. Photograph:  Dylan Vaughan

CRH chairman Nicky Hartery may be approached to succeed Joe Keeling as HRI chairman

Yorkhill is quoted by many bookmakers for every championship event at Cheltenham from the Champion Hurdle to the Gold Cup. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Willie Mullins also pointing Faugheen towards Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Peter O’Mahony: Like Simon Zebo, he  has a duty to himself and his family to make the most of a short career at elite level. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

In the era of professional rugby, players realistically have to go and follow the money

Un de Sceaux: made a successful return to action in the  Kerry Group Hilly Chase at Mallow.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Final two races abandoned at Cork due to deteriorating ground

Sizing John streaks clear of Djakadam at Punchestown. Photograph: PA

‘Horse of the Year’ sees off Djakadam to claim Durkan Chase in impressive style

Highland Reel secured a seventh Group One victory in his final race. Photograph: Vince Caliguiri/Getty

Five-year-old caps off a stunning career with a seventh Group One victory at Sha Tin

Ruby Walsh guiding Und De Sceaux to victory in the Ryanair Chase during the   Cheltenham Festival last March. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Punchestown hoping rain rather than snow will facilitate John Durkan Chase meeting

Sizing John ridden by Robbie Power en route to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

O’Brien and Mullins fly the Irish flag in Hong Kong’s International races at Sha Tin

 Robbie Power riding Sizing John (R) pips Djakadam (L) to claim the Punchestown Gold Cup last  April. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Willie Mullins says Sandown’s Tingle Creek remains Douvan’s most likely target

Chairman of HRI, Joe Keeling,  with Kate Harrington, Jessica Harrington, jockey Robbie Power and Emma Galway accepting horse of the year award for Sizing John who won the Horse of the Year Award the annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards   at Leopardstown Racecourse on Tuesday.  Photograph: Chris Bellew / Fennells

Outgoing chairman Joe Keeling says some cabinet members need to adopt ‘some bravery’

Apple’s Jade ridden by Jack Kennedy (left)  on the way to winning the Bar One Racing Hatton`s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.   Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Douvan on course to return to action in Tingle Creek

 Ryan Moore on Highland Reel. The Aidan O’Brien-trained horse will attempt to repeat his 2015 victory in the mile and a half Vase in Hong Kong.  Photograph: Getty Images

Willie Mullins’s Max Dynamite also takes his chance in Vase

Apple’s Jade ridden by Jack Kennedy on the way to winning the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Despite Fairyhouse win, owner says mares should get no weight allowance at top level

Mengli Khan ridden by Jack Kennedy (left) races clear of the last on the way to winning the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle during day two of the Fairyhouse Winter Festival. Photograph: PA

Top handler and owner strike at Fairyhouse Winter Festival to make it a unique occasion

Apple’s Jade:   Navan run last month could  give her  a crucial edge in  Sunday’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Apple’s Jade attempts to be first in a dozen years to retain Hatton’s Grace Hurdle

The Turf Club regulates Irish racing on a 32-county basis, but it appears unclear how precisely the vetting process will work in relation to trainers in the North

All employers have to be checked by vetting bureau if they employ people under age of 18

“Jockeys have to know and understand they are professional athletes who have a liability not only to themselves but to their colleagues,” said jockeys’ association spokesman Andrew Coonan. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Turf Club set to recommend four-year bans on jockeys who transgress in future

Ger Fox celebrates winning the Boylesports Irish Grand National on Rogue Angel at Fairyhouse in 2016. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ger Fox, Roger Quinlan and Danny Benson suspended by Turf Club Referrals Committee

Gigginstown team deny any ‘falling out’ with champion amateur Jamie Codd

Edward O’Grady: his late wife, Maria, passed away  after sustaining fatal injuries in a hunting accident on Saturday.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Barry John Foley hopes for pre-appeal boost at Punchestown with Golden Firepower

Apple’s Jade (left) ridden by Bryan Cooper leads home Vroum Vroum Mag ridden by Ruby Walsh in last year’s Bar One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

No British raiders bound for Fairyhouse despite three Grade Ones on prestigious card

Samcro ridden by Jack Kennedy jumps the last to win The ‘Monksfield’ Novice Hurdle at Navan. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Star Novice described as ‘gentle giant’ by his first trainer, Colin Bowe

 Like  Trapattoni, Martin O’Neill has come under fire for being some football Neanderthal. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

World-class ambition is fine. But the expectations towards Irish football are delusional

Samcro, ridden by Jack Kennedy, jumps the last to win the Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan Racecourse. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michael O’Leary’s giant chestnut got a perfect score for style in effortless demolition job

Luke Comer has been ordered by the Turf Club to pay almost €50,000 in fines. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Racing’s regulatory body published a list of sanctions in relation to long running issues

Acapella Bourgeois has his first start for Willie Mullins in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Gordon Elliott’s Outlander bids for Grade One Glory in Haydock’s Betfair Chase

  Idaho will run in the Japan Cup on Sunday morning.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

No foreign runner has won Japan Cup since Alkaased scored in 2005

Trainer Mick Winters: “I welcome it in a lot of ways because it might open up the thing.” Photograph: Inpho

Trainer is appealing after being fined €6,000 for the running of Churchtown Glen in Cork

The Anti-Doping Task Force  was originally set up after a series of steroids controversies

Task force has been reconvened to break deadlock on how to implement drug-testing procedures

Sizing John ridden by Robbie Power on their way to victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Jessica Harrington is hopeful her Gold Cup hero can successfully return to action

Gordon Elliot with Jack Kennedy and Potters Point in the winner’s enclosure at Fairyhouse in April. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The trainer successfully appealed a non-trier penalty imposed on him and Jack Kennedy

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy have won their appeals against ‘non-trier’ penalties imposed from a Down Royal meeting earlier this month. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Trainer and jockey given penalties after Suitor finished third in Down Royal hurdle

Faugheen is set to return to action after a 22-month layoff at Punchestown. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Willie Mullins’ star set set for first appearance in 22 months in Morgiana Hurdle

Apple’s Jade won the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on her return to the track after almost 200 days. File Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Gordon Elliott scores a four-timer including Clarcam who could be set for retirement

Bryan Cooper on board Apple’s Jade at Punchestown Racecourse. Apple’s Jade is the star turn among 16 weekend runners for Michael O’Leary’s Giginstown Stud team through both Navan and Saturday’s action at Naas. Photograph: Inpho

Davy Russell confident he will be cleared to ride at weekend after getting X-ray results

Pat Smullen onboard Eziyra wins the 2016 European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden at the Galway Festival. Photograph: Inpho

Maarek has 76th career start at Doncaster as cross-channel turf campaign closes

Trainer Joseph O’Brien holds the Melbourne Cup trophy  after his horse Rekindling won race seven  at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Ireland's Melbourne Cup pioneer acclaims Joseph O’Brien’s ‘wonderful achievement’

 Trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Corey Brown pose for photographs after winning the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Photograph: PA

The son of the world’s most successful trainer has been paying attention in class

 Ten Ten  winning  at Down Royal. The Jack Kennedy-ridden Suitor finished third  in the maiden hurdle. Photograph: Presseye/Inpho

Elliot says unbeaten Samcro will wait for Royal Bond hurdle at Fairyhouse

Horse Racing Ireland chief Brian Kavanagh didn’t rule out a new system being in place by Christmas. Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

Brian Kavanagh says new task force chairman will not be connected to industry

Colin Keane at Naas celebrating his 100th winner of the year on board Warnaq. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

New champion rides double on final day of the flat season

 Max Dynamite  rolling  in  sand  at Werribee racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. Photograph:   Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Joseph O’Brien tries to lift the ‘race that stops a nation’ on the first time of asking

Over the years Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien  has thrown 14 horses without success at the $6 million climax to US racing’s shop-window event. Photograph: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Breeders Cup the highlight as Highland Reel in good position to defend turf title at Del Mar

Robbie Power and Our Duke  in action. An impressive win would see him pressure his stable companion Sizing John at the top of the Gold Cup betting. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill

Michael O’Leary chasing five-in-a-row in steeplechase feature with four of eight runners

Mendelssohn, second from right,  ridden by jockey Ryan Moore on the way to winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf  at Del Mar Race Track in  California. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Irish trainer increases his record haul of Group One wins to 27 at Del Mar

Ryan Moore riding Rhododendron (centre)  at Newmarket  in October. The horse’s  odds for the Filly & Mare at Del Mar have eased after  drawing 14 of 14. Photograph: Getty Images

Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud aiming for five in a row in Grade One at Down Royal

Giant’s Causeway’s narrow loss to Tiznow at Churchill Downs in 2000 is the closest Aidan O’Brien has come to winning the Breeders Cup Classic. Photograph: Jeff Haynes/Getty Images.

O'Brien-trained Caravaggio and Highland Reel will both stand at Coolmore next year

 Joel Rosario on  Mind Your Biscuits   after winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen   this year. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty

Kentucky Derby winning jockey has won five Breeders’ Cup races and Dubai World Cup

 Aidan O’Brien celebrates as Saxon Warrior wins at Doncaster to secure the trainer a record 26 Group One winners in a single year. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Rather enigmatic sporting figure has really delivered and is likely to keep doing so

Aidan O’Brien secured his 26th Group One winner of the season at Doncaster on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Sunday’s Saint-Cloud card scrapped due to protest against French racing budget cuts

Saxon Warrior (R) holds off Roaring Lion to give Aidan O’Brien a 26th Group One of the season. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Two-year-old battles back to take Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster under Ryan Moore

Pádraig Beggy riding Wings Of Eagles to win The Investec Derby from Cliffs Of Moher on  Derby Day at Epsom. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Derby winner Pádraig Beggy can land Eyrefield Stakes on Flag Of Honour

If O’Brien fails to secure the world record at Doncaster, he will have two more chances at Saint-Cloud where he has won both of the big races four times each in the past. Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Saxon Warrior favourite to give O’Brien a 26th Group One winner of the season

 Frankie Dettori celebrates as he rides Cracksman to win The QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Cracksman given official 130 rating to make him 2lbs Superior to Arc hero Enable

 William Buick celebrates  Ribchester’s victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal  Ascot in June Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Eyrefield Stakes will highlight Leopardstown’s final flat card of 2017 on Saturday

Jockey Colin Keane has a lead of four over Pat Smullen coming into the Fairyhouse showdown. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Title challenger is 2-9 favourite to lift title with less than two weeks to end of season

 Bryan Cooper on  Disko. Disko was third to Our Duke  at Leopardstown last Christmas, but comprehensively reversed that form  at the same track a couple of months later. Photograph: Getty Images

Meade runner could clash for third time with Our Duke

 Trainer Aidan O’Brien:  Saxon Warrior and The Pentagon  are likely to be his main hopes for the final top-flight prize of the British season at Doncaster. Photograph: Getty Images

Verbal Dexterity on course for final Group one of British season

Everyone knows elite competition is as much a mental test as a physical one and it has been the basis for a sustained campaign by chess authorities for inclusion in the Olympics.  Photograph: Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for World Chess by Agon Limited

Quit playing games – using ‘physical activity’ as a definition leaves a lot of wriggle room

Pat Smullen: will miss Leopardstown’s last fixture of the campaign on Saturday due to suspension. Photograph: Inpho

Contingent forecast to be classic contender for 2018 after impressive debut

Trainer Aidan O’Brien  is congratulated after equalling the record for 25 Group One winners in a season at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day. Photograph: Getty Images

Saxon Warrior and The Pentagon in line to break world record 26th Group One success for O’Brien

 Aidan O’Brien:  strong favourite to bypass Bobby Frankel’s tally of 25 Group One winners in a year.  Photograph:  Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Ballydoyle pair Churchill and Caravaggio have plenty to prove at on Champions Day at Ascot

 Willie Mullins:  has contenders in big races in France and Australia this weekend. Photograph:  Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Ger Lyons gives McMunigal second start in Killvavullan Stakes at Leopardstown

High winds from could force cancellation of Saturday’s meeting

Mrs Maureen Mullins, jockey  Patrick Mullins and Willie Mullins after  Wicklow Brave’s victory in the Betdaq Punchestown Champion  at Punchestown. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Photograph

Willie Mullins concedes wide Caulfield Cup draw will test Wicklow Brave

 David Mullins on Petit Mouchoir wins the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Irish Champion Hurdle winner makes an eagerly-awaited return to action

 Mark Zahra riding Gailo Chop pips Katelyn Mallyon on  Johannes Vermeer in the Ladbrokes Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne. Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Johannes Vermeer and Wicklow Brave set to line up in $3million Melbourne feature

 Aidan O’Brien:  has left eight horses among the 17-strong entry for the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Monday’s five-day stage. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Godolphin and Gosden likely to have favourites for four top-flight prizes

 Sebastian Coe: prioritising presentation looks like  fiddling for the sake of it. Keeping athletics relevant is about credibility, not novelty. Photograph: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty

Perhaps a doping amnesty and a fresh start is required to allow the sport regain its soul

Ryan Moore riding US Navy Flag to win The Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Last-gasp victory on Elegant Pose helps young jockey complete a Naas hat-trick

Ryan Moore riding US Navy Flag wins the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Irish trainer readying Champions Day team for Ascot next Saturday

US Navy Flag appears to be O’Brien’s  number one hope of a sixth Dewhurst Stakes success at Newmarket. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Idaho and Rain Goddess line up for champion trainer in Canada on Sunday

Trainer Willie Mullins’ focus is principally on the flat this weekend.   Photograph: : David Davies/PA

Six Irish hopefuls line up for tilt at marathon prize

Bryan Cooper was let go by Gigginstown at the end of July. “They (Potts and Tizzard) have some fantastic horses. I can’t believe it to be honest.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Former Gigginstown jockey will begin with Tizzard-trained duo at Ludlow on Wednesday

Colin Keane is bidding to claim the jockeys’ championship for the first time: “ I have the height of regard for Colin Keane. He is an excellent young rider. It will be very close,” said Dermot Weld. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho

‘I don’t have a huge supply for Pat [Smullen] and I imagine he may find it difficult’

Verbal Dexterity. “He has everything and is the complete package. He’s as good as any of the ones that have the Dewhurst for us. Any of those five,” said trainer Jim Bolger. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

English colt Expert Eye odds on for top juvenile event at Newmarket

Brian Kavanagh:  “I’d  hope for some indication of longer-terms plans with regard to betting tax and details of allocated funding for the Horse & Greyhound Fund for next year.” Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

O’Leary’s expensive purchase, Poli Roi, makes hurdles debut in Galway

David Clifford celebrates Kerry’s victory over Derry after his outstanding contribution of 4-4 in the All-Ireland minor football final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Carping over Colm Cooper’s testimonial should be a timely warning for young star

Colin Keane:  steered Gobi Desert to victory in the Listed Legacy Stakes at Navan.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Total Recall lands Munster National in a canter for Willie Mullins

Pat Smullen and Zhukova will line up for the $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Sunday night. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

English raider Nietzsche can go close in Irish Cesarewitch at Navan

Roger Loughran on Total Recall on their way to winning The Prancer and Dancer Rated Novice Steeplechase in the Navan Races in Proudstown, Co Meath in December 2016. File photograph: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ex-Sandra Hughes runner has first start for champion trainer in Limerick highlight

 Potters Point proved too good for Arkwhist in the Kerry National. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Aidan O’Brien has seven options including Abyssinian in Irish Cesarewitch

Davy Russell: will partner Death Duty in a Beginners Chase at Tipperary. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Grade One winner makes anticipated debut over fences

Aidan O’Brien: the trainer is rapidly closing in on Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Roly Poly is set to tackle Saturday’s Sun Chariot at Newmarket as second favourite

 Ryan Moore riding Happily to victory in  the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting at Chantilly Racecourse on Sunday. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Happily and Rhododendron strike to increase trainer’s Group One wins to 22 this year

Trainer Dermot Weld has yet to see results from The Grey Gatsby this season   but the six-year-old will have first-time lasix when he lines up in the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Balko De Flos and Shaneshill clash again at Gowran in Saturday’s Champion Chase

Frankie Dettori on Enable at the Curragh Racecourse earlier this year. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Frankie Dettori odds on to secure record fifth Arc victory on Sunday at Chantilly

There continues to be discontent in the north that stable staff there weren’t entitled to benefits. Photo: Inpho

Northern Ireland Trainers Association have backed the handlers in continuing confusion

Ryan Moore guiding Order of St George to victory in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh earlier this month. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Max Dynamite still in contention for Cadran at Chantilly on Saturday

Co Dublin trainer Adrian McGuinness has been given a suspended two-year disqualification relating to possession of unauthorised animal remedies. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

‘I made a mistake three years ago. To be honest I’m glad it’s all over’

The Turf Club’s chief executive Denis Egan said  60 ‘A’ card holders in the North have been  covered for death benefit since 2012.   Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

‘I never heard tell of it. I’ve had no information from the Turf Club’ – Ian Ferguson

Turf Club “A” cards are issued to full-time stable employees throughout Ireland, and Mr Egan said there were 60 such card-holders currently registered in the North. Photograph: Getty Images

Turf Club says full-time stable staff in North covered by life assurance since 2012

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