Some marquee names take to the track in Fairyhouse for the Winter Festival. Envoi Allen and Honeysuckle, both victorious at last year's meeting, make welcome returns. They both won as odds on favourites should last year. They should both repeat the dose on Sunday. This mild spell of weather looks set to continue. The ground is likely to ride yielding.
12pm Bar One Racing Mares' Handicap Chase: Fiveaftermidnight looks the best play here. This step up in grade will test her but she looks well handicapped. A most encouraging seasonal return over hurdles should see her cherry ripe for this. The refitting of cheekpieces is another positive. If Ellie Mac can avoid jumping errors, she looks fairly treated too.
Selection: Fiveaftermidnight 16/1
12.30pm Bar One Juvenile Hurdle: Saint Sam must be respected given connections. He does concede weight all round though. Perhaps Druid's Altar can take advantage. This improving type beat a potentially smart horse on his hurdling bow in Punchestown. He is likely to be at a tactical advantage and, with a slightly improved round of jumping, will prove hard to pass.
Selection: Druid's Altar 3/1
1.05pm Royal Bond Novice Hurdle: Ballyadam has a lofty reputation to justify. He looked a natural on his hurdles debut in Down Royal. He's too short for me though. I will play Annexation in the betting without the favourite market. This horse ran a big race under sub optimal conditions in Navan last time out. This easier track, and quicker ground, should be right up his alley.
Selection: Annexation (betting w/o Ballyadam) 4/1
1.35pm Drinmore Novice Chase: Not really a betting race. We mustn't always get bogged down with temporal matters though. For a few minutes we can gaze upon a horse sent from the gods. Envoi Allen took to fences like a duck to water in Down Royal. He can extend his winning sequence here. Assemble looks the one for the forecast. He jumped particularly well on chase debut, and should outspeed the other pair.
Selection: Envoi Allen 1/6
2.05pm Porterstown Handicap Chase: Death Duty appeals as a well handicapped horse. He's entitled to come on for a reasonable comeback effort in the Troytown last time out. Voix Des Tiep brings some decent novice form to the table. His seasonal bow was disappointing but he would be greatly feared if bouncing back to form.
Selection: Death Duty 20/1
2.35pm Hatton's Grace Hurdle: Honeysuckle should repeat last year's win in this race. She looks the best horse in the race, is a model of consistency, and of course gets a significant weight allowance. Fury Road is a very promising staying hurdler. He should get a soft lead here but may ultimately be outspeeded by the mare.
Selection: Honeysuckle 4/6
3.05pm Bar One Handicap Hurdle: Eclair De Beaufeu lurks on a dangerous mark. He's rated over a stone higher as a chaser. His comeback effort in Navan was underwhelming but that came in hot company, and he may have needed the outing. He has also run well in some classy handicap hurdles in the past. Cayd Boy heads the list of potential dangers.
Selection: Eclair De Beaufeu 6/1
3.40pm Bar One INH Flat Race: Not much to go on here. Grand Paradis cost plenty, and appears the Elliot number one on jockey bookings. It would come as little surprise if Noel Meade targeted this race. It will be interesting to see if Hymie Weiss attracts much betting interest.
Selection: Grand Paradis 7/4