Irish racing on weekend weather watch
Punchestown hoping rain rather than snow will facilitate John Durkan Chase meeting
Ruby Walsh guiding Und De Sceaux to victory in the Ryanair Chase during the Cheltenham Festival last March. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Punchestown officials are keeping their fingers crossed they stay on the right side of something of a national snowline ahead of Sunday’s Grade One John Durkan Chase meeting.
The track’s racing manager Richie Galway is hopeful that racing will go ahead but an uncertain forecast on Saturday night has raised significant concerns.
“We’re being told there will be a line across the country where snow changes to rain and we’re hoping we will be on the right side of that,” he said on Friday.
“We’re going to have a sharp frost on Friday night. But the real issue arises the following night in terms of us getting snow or rain or a combination of both. Obviously we hope it will be rain.
“We’re pretty hopeful but we’re going to keep a close eye on it and we’ll have a look first thing on Sunday morning,” Galway added.
Met Éireann has issued a status orange weather warning for much of the northern half of the country. The counties concerned include Kildare with “significant falls of snow” expected on Saturday night.
A precautionary 8.00 inspection will take place at Navan ahead of Saturday’s card due to concerns about frost.
Overnight temperatures are forecast to dip as low as -3 but the track manager Peter Killeen is hopeful of getting a green light.
“We’re currently raceable but with the forecast we’ll have a look in the morning. It is purely precautionary though,” he said.
No snow issues are anticipated to reach as far as Cork where instead rain is expected to clear on Sunday morning ahead of the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase card.
“If the forecast is right we shouldn’t have any issues. We’re expecting 5mms of rain on Saturday night and then it’s to be dry Sunday,” said the Cork manager, Andrew Hogan.
Un De Sceaux is the undoubted star turn, the double Cheltenham festival winner set to concede weight all-round in the €60,000 Grade Two feature.
David Mullins is pencilled in to ride the flamboyant front-runner for the first time although jockey arrangements throughout the programme could see a reshuffle if Punchestown is called off.
It will be a first appearance at the Mallow course for the locally owned Un de Sceaux and on testing conditions he will be tough to peg back even if having to concede 8lbs to the British raider, Top Gamble.
Local trainer Mick Winters gives Granny Biddy a Grade Three test in the Stayers Novice Hurdle after her three course wins in a row.
The impact of that winning streak is a 135 rating which combined with the 7lbs mares allowance could make her tough to beat.
Shattered Love missed out on last weekend’s Drinmore with a temperature but can secure a Grade Three victory in the mares novice chase.