Vroum Vroum Mag (left): the star act in the Hatton’s Grace
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tony McFadden 10:43AM 2 DEC 2016
FAUGHEEN does not feature among seven declarations for Sunday’s Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, with trainer Willie Mullins instead turning to Vroum Vroum Mag, Shaneshill and Whiteout.
The high-class septet is completed by Apple’s Jade, who was a narrow runner-up in last week’s Fighting Fifth, Monksland, Dedigout and Ivanovich Gorbatov.
Faugheen missed the Morgiana Hurdle last month with a bruised foot but had been under consideration to make his first start since last season’s impressive Irish Champion Hurdle victory in January.
In Faugheen’s absence, the same connections’ Vroum Vroum Mag, who is unbeaten in ten starts for Mullins and is a dual Grade 1 winner, is expected to head the market. Ruby Walsh takes the ride.
The Hatton’s Grace is one of three Grade 1s on a quality Fairyhouse card, with top honours also up for grabs in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Drinmore Novice Chase.
The Drinmore, in particular, is a cracking contest and arguably the strongest novice chase run so far this season.
Coral Cup winner Diamond King, an impressive winner on his chasing debut at Galway and a leading fancy for the JLT Novices’ Chase, is one of three representatives for the red-hot Gordon Elliott, who also saddles A Toi Phil and Lieutenant Colonel.
Alpha Des Obeaux, runner-up to Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle and 7-1 favourite for the RSA Chase, is another top-class prospect who has been declared.
Anibale Fly, Coney Island and Road To Respect complete the seven-runner line-up.
Peace News, a top price of 10-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle following a smooth success on his debut over hurdles at Cork last month, takes his next step on the road to Cheltenham in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.
The Henry De Bromhead-trained four-year-old is set to face six rivals, including three from the Willie Mullins stable.
Mullins, who is bidding to win the race for the sixth time in the past ten years, saddles Penhill, who is the mount of Ruby Walsh, along with Saturnas and Airlie Beach.
Labaik, Le Martalin and Forge Meadow also run.