Although the second day of The Fairyhouse Winter Festival gets most of the coverage – with the Drinmore, the Royal Bond and the Hatton’s Grace – day one is very competitive, so here’s a few picks.
11.50 – Ontheropes (8-1), Star Max (25-1 EW)
The Cheveley Park Stud colours are becoming more regular and they are in for a potentially-huge weekend with Envoi Allen in action tomorrow. Ontheropes is with Willie Mullins and goes in a hugely-competitive looking beginners’ chase. Mullins has the favourite in Carefully Selected but Ontheropes has shown promise, winning his only hurdle and he switches straight to fencing after a long lay-off.
Star Max was a flat horse in Germany and had a very up and down season over hurdles in the last campaign, winning a couple of times but slightly disappointing in the Boodles Juvenile (formerly the Fred Winter) at Cheltenham. A promising chasing debut at Wexford recently hints at further improvement and is getting a big weight allowance here.
12.25 Ask Heather (15-4)
With Fiveaftermidnight a non-runner, Ask Heather can take advantage in this mares’ handicap chase. Simon Torrens takes off 7lb which could make the difference against the likes of Demi Plie and Moskovite.
1.00 Avenir D’Une Vie (9-2)
Switched from Henry De Bromhead to Gordon Elliott, Avenir D’Une Vie is a pick, although not a hugely-confident one to win the feature, the Easyfix Handicap Chase, that only has six runners but all have a chance. A recent poor run can be forgotten as it is balanced out by the fresh start.
3.15 Assemble (16-1 EW)
Young Yorkshire jockey Oakley Brown has made a good impression in his short time at Joseph O’Brien’s yard and he can get Assemble close in the bumper.