“We have left Annie Power, Faugheen, Ivan Grozny, Nichols Canyon, Sempre Medici, Simenon and Vroum Vroum Mag in the StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle in Punchestown this weekend and I expect to have a few runners in the race as it is an important race and a nice time of year. We will decide on more definite plans after the horses work this week but it is a race we are looking forward to.” The words of champion trainer Willie Mullins as he looks forward to this weekend's two-day meeting at Punchestown.
Meanwhile Trainer Gavin Cromwell is hopeful of running last season’s high class juvenile Jer’s Girl who won the Tattersalls Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival by 10-lengths and Apple’s Jade, a 41-length winner of a Grade 1 last season is also included alongside the Joseph O’Brien-trained Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov.
Racing at Punchestown on Saturday is due off at 12 noon and among the likely runners in the Luna Bar Supporting Cavan GAA is current Triumph Hurdle favourite Landofhopeandglory following his recent Fairyhouse success, while there will be action on the famous Punchestown cross country course with highly rated chasers Foxrock and Goonyella interesting entries in the Risk Of Thunder Chase.
Looking ahead to the weekend racing manager at Punchestown, Richie Galway, commented; “The ground is currently yielding, yielding to soft in places and we will have fresh ground on the hurdle track both days. This weekend features our first Grade 1 of the season and really marks the beginning of the top class action for us at Punchestown with the StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle being the highlight.
“Our graded races look like they will have small fields but a lot of quality. The Morgiana has traditionally attracted a small entry but people want to see top class jump horses and they don’t come much better than Annie Power or Faugheen and Identity Thief is one of the most exciting novice chasers around and he’s due to run in the Craddockstown Novice Chase on Sunday as well. ”
The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place Saturday November 19 and Sunday 20. Gates open at 11am each day. The weekend features free family entertainment and the Ballymore Winter Fair. Admission from €12/8 on Saturday and €15/€10 on Sunday. All children under 14 race for free.