The Fairyhouse Easter jamboree kicks off on Sunday. Temperatures look set to nudge 20 degrees. The clerk of the course is watering.
A late Easter probably means fewer horses will attempt to double up at Punchestown next week. These movable feasts take no consideration of race planners. Still, as one would hope given the money on offer, there is plenty of quality on show.
1.50pm Ryans Cleaning Event Specialists Maiden Hurdle
The meeting commences with a workaday maiden hurdle. Batts Rock has the ability, but his application leaves something to be desired. Galilean would be an appropriate winner this week. He should go very close too.
Marginal preference though, is for Mr Everest.
Tony Martin's charge has improved greatly on the flat since his last outing over the sticks. A stiffer stamina test would be ideal, but his class can see him home in an ordinary race.
Selection: Mr Everest 13/8
2.20pm YR Sauce Novice Handicap Hurdle
Gavin Cromwell looks to hold a strong hand here. Darvers Star is respected, despite the handicapper not taking kindly to his Wexford romp. Megabucks is also interesting on first run for the yard.
Embrun Mitja gets the vote. This imposing specimen seemingly took connections by surprise, when winning at Naas. Grade 1 company proved too much next time. He remains a horse of some potential, and could enjoy a massive class edge here.
Selection: Embrun Mitja
2.50pm Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final
Honeysuckle is all the rage here. She comes here on the back of two impressive wins in graded company. She was well fancied for the mares novice at Cheltenham.
A setback meant she failed to take up that engagement. Her credentials for this race are obvious, but may be overestimated by the market. The winner of that Cheltenham race, Eglantine Du Seuil [above], gets the nod. She shaped that day, like a step up in trip would suit, and looks a fair price to follow up here. In a deep race, reasonable cases can be made for Annie Mc, Sassy Diva, and Black Tears.
Selection: Eglantine Du Seuil 5/1
3.20pm Lauro At Hayes Stud Rated Novice Chase
Ain't Done Yet is a particularly accomplished jumper. Expect his fencing skills to be in evidence from flag fall. He should jump some limited opposition into submission, and rates banker material.
Selection: Ain't Done Yet 5/4
3.50pm BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase
Something of a rogues gallery this race. Neither Kildorrey, Impact Factor, nor indeed Veinard will ever be mistaken for warriors of the turf. Riders Onthe Storm is tricky too. Headstrong tendencies have held him back. He does look well handicapped though.
This race should be run at a good pace, which will aid the jockey in settling him. The drop back to two miles looks a positive too. He rates a confident pick. Snugsborough Hall is up in grade here. He does appeals as a horse going places though, and can chase the selection home.
Selection: Riders Onthe Storm 3/1
4.25pm Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase
The feature race. Mengli Khan heads the betting. He has already had two hard races at Spring festivals, and the suspicion that this might be one race too many lingers. Voix Du Reve is interesting. Returning to a right handed track looks favourable.
The selection is Winter Escape. A return to the form of his penultimate start, when giving weight and a beating to A Plus Tard, would make him very hard to beat there. The snag is he burst blood vessels when disappointing at Leopardstown last time. Hopefully a 10-week break will see him return in rude health. At the prices, it looks a chance worth taking.
Selection: Winter Escape 4/1
5pm Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper
Not a lot of form to go on here. Noel Meade seeks a hat trick in the race. His Zambezir probably sets the standard. It's not an exacting one though, and he didn't progress from his debut. This race will probably go to a newcomer.
Fakiera appears the Gordon Elliot first string. He cost €50,000 as a 3 year old. He rates a token selection to claw some of that outlay back.
Selection: Fakiera 9/1
Watch live coverage of the three-day Fairyhouse Easter Festival on RTÉ 2 from 2pm on Sunday, 21 April, from 2.30pm on Monday, 22 April and from 3pm on Tuesday, 23 April.