Johnny Ward: my best bet for Fairyhouse on Saturday

By Johnny Ward
Fri 27 Jan 2023

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Willie Mullins is on the cusp of yet another career milestone as a double at Gowran Park on Thursday leaves him just one shy of 4,000 world-wide winners.

Kudos to whoever came up with the statistic at Horseracing Ireland, as Mullins has had winners in many different countries. His humility such that he will not be making a song or dance about hitting 4,000 this weekend.

He has a dozen entries, including Energumene at Cheltenham.

I found this card really difficult from a punting viewpoint and my selection is not one to trust but one of those horses you feel worth persevering with. Be lucky.

1.36 Fairyhouse: Ballyadam Destiny

I am giving this son of Martaline another chance, for all that he is not straightforward.

He would have won in another 100 yards at Cork last time, despite again having issues with his jumping.

I trust Denis Hogan has schooled him extensively since and, if that works, there's no doubt he's handicapped to win.

He must reverse the Limerick form with Made In The Woods but on the plus side at least that form is working out.

Fairyhouse preview

Ashroe Diamond bids to give Mullins back-to-back victories in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The six-year-old struck Grade Two glory in the mares’ bumper at Aintree’s Grand National Festival last spring and has continued to produce a fine level of form since transferring to hurdles this season.

Winner of a Naas maiden on her return, she has not been disgraced in a pair of Grade One events since, finishing third in both Punchestown’s Royal Bond and the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The daughter of Walk In The Park is second favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and has the chance to lay down a marker for that contest in this Grade Three event.

“We are looking forward to running, she’s in good order and we’re happy with her at home,” said James Fenton, club manager for owners Blue Blood Racing.

“Danny (Mullins) is riding her because Paul (Townend) is going to Cheltenham to ride Energumene and Patrick (Mullins) can’t do the weight and we’re delighted to see Danny get the leg-up – he’s as good a rider out there.

“We go with confidence and if she can reproduce the form of her last two runs, we give her every chance.

Ashroe Diamond ridden by Patrick Mullins celebrates winning the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt at Aintree Racecourse
Ashroe Diamond ridden by Patrick Mullins celebrates winning the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt at Aintree Racecourse

“It is a very competitive field and they all demand plenty of respect, but we would be very confident with our mare.”

Mullins is also represented by Saylavee who was on the scoresheet in Listed company at Punchestown last month, while owner Kenny Alexander won this in both 2020 and 2021 with Honeysuckle and Minella Melody respectively and sees his colours carried by the unbeaten Gordon Elliott-trained Halka Du Tabert this time.

Jessica Harrington’s Jetara is related to Champion Hurdle hero Jezki and made a pleasing hurdles debut when chasing home High Definition at Leopardstown.

Before that she won a Listed bumper at Navan and also has a course victory to her name.

“She is a nice horse and she seems to go on a bit softer ground than most of her relations – I just think she’s a really nice horse,” said Harrington.

“Two miles, two and a half furlongs at Fairyhouse will suit her. She won a bumper there over two and a half, she’s won a bumper over two miles and then last time she ran over two miles and was staying on all the way, so I think the distance is about right for her.”

Jetara kept on gamely to win the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires In Swoop Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race at Navan
Jetara kept on gamely to win the Listed Coolmore N.H. Sires In Swoop Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race at Navan

A bold showing on Saturday could see the five-year-old book her ticket to Prestbury Park in March – with Harrington confirming the Mares’ Novice is on Jetara’s agenda, provided she continues on her upwards curve.

“The Mares’ Novice is two-miles-one and they’ll go a good gallop,” added Harrington.

“She was all out over two miles in the Listed bumper and stayed on well, so we’ll go on Saturday and see what happens.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Goodie Two Shoes and Jarlath Fahey’s track-and-trip scorer Whatcouldhavebeen complete the line-up.

Find top tips for Cheltenham on Saturday here:

Five key runners for Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham

Paddy's Pick 5: tips for Saturday's £25,000 Cheltenham game

Dave Nevison: my best four bets for Cheltenham on Saturday

Paddy Power Cotswold Chase: runner-by-runner guide

Paul Nicholls: guide to my Festival Trials Day team

Festival Trials Day: read what connections have to say

Road To Cheltenham: Time right to move for Arkle fancy at 20-1

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