The Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki heads an entry of eight horses for the Grade 3 RED MILLS Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday. Successful in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014, Jezki returned from an absence of more than 20 months to win at Navan in January.
Harrington won the race with Macs Joy in 2006 and she has also entered Ttebbob in the €45,000 event. Gordon Elliott has also made two entries and could be represented by Sutton Place, so impressive when landing the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas two weeks ago and Tombstone who finished third to Jezki at Navan last time.
Willie Mullins looks set to rely on his Cheltenham Festival winner Limini who was successful in the Grade 2 Trull House Stud Mares´ Novices´ Hurdle last March while Colin Kidd has entered Rashaan who accounted for both Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir when taking the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal in November. He scored on the Flat at Dundalk on Friday night. The early entries are completed by the Ronnie O’Leary-trained Rory O’Moore and Adrian Joyce’s Rock On Rosie.
Gordon Elliott is responsible for four of the seven entries for the Grade 2 RED MILLS Chase. The season’s leading trainer’s quartet is headed by Ball D’Arc who won the Bar One Racing Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse on his last start. Elliott could also run Clarcam who was successful at Clonmel last time out and Realt Mor who chased home Douvan in the Grade 2 BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown earlier this month. Roi Des Francs completes the Elliott team as he bids for a second win in the €45,000 race after the 2013 success of Chicago Grey.
Third to Smashing in the race last year, Ballycasey beat Road To Riches to win the Grade 2 PWC Champion Chase here in October and he could carry the hopes of champion trainer Willie Mullins who landed the spoils with Champagne Fever in 2015. Monty’s Meadow has been entered by Jimmy Mangan while Mouse Morris could be represented by Mozoltov.
Joe Connolly, Chief Executive of Connolly’s RED MILLS, said, “We have enjoyed a great year, with Connolly’s RED MILLS customers enjoying top-level success and we are very proud to have fed over 80 Group 1 winners from all over the world in 2016. We continue to invest locally and our long tradition of racing at Gowran Park goes from strength to strength. The RED MILLS Race Day is a big part of the Irish road to Cheltenham and has produced some incredible winners over the years; now in its 37th year we believe it is one of the longest standing Irish sports sponsorships and we are very proud of this association. Gowran Park is a valuable resource to the local area and this very special occasion gives us the opportunity to meet with and thank many of our valued customers.”
Eddie Scally, Manager of Gowran Park Racecourse, said, “RED MILLS Race Day is recognised as one of the best National Hunt Fixtures on the South East Racing Calendar with both the RED MILLS Trial Hurdle and RED MILLS Chase attracting the biggest names in Irish racing. As one of the last real Cheltenham Trials days, it has seen stars such as Hardy Eustace, Solwit and Champagne Fever race with us before heading for Cheltenham. Excitement is already starting to build with the news that the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner of 2014 Jezki is confirmed as a definite runner in our hurdle and the Chase again has attracted some high-class entries.”
Listen to clips from Jessica Harrington and Sean Flanagan