Willie Mullins weighs up weekend options for Arctic Fire

Favourite for Hatton’s Grace Hurdle could yet run in Newcastle Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Arctic Fire has been installed an early odds-on favourite for Sunday's Bar One Hatton's Grace Hurdle but Willie Mullins faces a choice between the centrepiece of Fairyhouse's triple-Grade One "Winter Festival" card or giving the horse another crack at Newcastle's Fighting Fifth Hurdle a day before.

Although forced to rule out Annie Power from the Hatton's Grace due to injury, Paddy Power believe Mullins still has a stranglehold on the €85,000 Fairyhouse contest and make Arctic Fire a 4-6 favourite.

His stable companion Clondaw Court is a 6-1 second favourite although the shape of the race is likely to become more clear after Tuesday’s five-day forfeit stage, a point at which last year’s winner Lieutenant Colonel was supplemented at a cost of €8,000.

Arctic Fire contested the Fighting Fifth last year, finishing runner up to Irving, and the pair could clash again.

A setback

“He will be left in both and I’ll have to see. He was second in Newcastle last year so he likes the track. We will make a decision later in the week,” said Mullins.

For the second year running Annie Power will miss the Hatton's Grace due to injury but owner Rich Ricci believes the star mare will be back at Cheltenham in March.

“We won’t take any chances with her as she is too valuable and is my pet. We will do the right thing by her,” said Ricci. “She will be back in work at the end of December then we will step her back up and get her ready for Cheltenham.”

One horse on course to run in the Hatton's Grace is the Alan Fleming trained Gencily Berbas who returned to action recently with an impressive Grade Three success at Naas.

"He was very good in Naas and hopefully he's going the right way. We'll probably have a crack at the Hatton's Grace with him now, which is another step up," explained his owner Barry Connell.

“He’s a four-year-old stepping up into open company, but he’s a talented horse and we’ll see what he can do.”

The JP McManus team don't expect to be heavily represented in the three Fairyhouse Grade Ones , which also include the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and the Drinmore Novice Chase, but Thomas Edison could take his chance in the Hatton's Grace.

"Thomas Edison is a possible for that but we'll be light in the Grade Ones. They don't seem to be quite forward enough just yet," said McManus's racing manager, Frank Berry.