Peter Fahey’s Shop DJ will be all the rage in the feature event on the final day of Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival, the Grade Three John Fowler Memorial European Breeders Fund Mares Chase (4.30).
Last seen when finishing a very creditable fifth to Quevega in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Shop Dj reverts back to the bigger obstacles this evening. The seven-year-old mare by Dushyantor is obviously in rude health after winning on the flat at Dundalk two starts ago. She only found the very-talented Knockfierna too good for her when last seen over fences, finishing second in a Grade Three Chase at Cork. Her most impressive performance was her demolition of Shirley Casper among others in a Grade Three hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last year. She thrives on good ground and she has bucket loads of class so it would be a surprise were she not to win this evening. Belle Brooke got very close to Knockfierna at Thurles on soft ground and a reproduction of that run would put her right in the mix. Odonimee and Gentle Alice have to give weight away to their rivals but certainly have big chances. However, Shop DJ’s main danger might well be Royal Choice who is around a 20/1 chance. She has a bit to find with the favourite on official ratings but she is better than a 121 rated mare and could have a big say in this particular race.
The other graded even in the card is the opening race, the Weatherbys Ireland GSB Hurdle (4.00) and Edeymi is likely to be a very warm order indeed. Sportsmaster and Maggie Neary are two notable non-runners so that leaves a field of 12 who will line-up. Davy Russell is retained jockey to Gigginstown and it is very interesting that he picks Charles Byrnes’ Arnaud over the favourite Edeymi. Arnaud looked the winner of the Fred Winter at Cheltenham until tiring up the hill and with a more patient ride I feel he can reverse placing’s with Edeymi. Ballynacree is a very unexposed contender and has enormous potential and he may well be a big danger.
Of the other races on the card, Vast Consumption and Cothrom Na Feinne can go well at big prices in the Handicap Hurdle at 5.00. Foildubh was boxing well above his weight behind Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle and at around 14/1 he has a good each-way chance in the Handicap Chase at 5.30. Bellvano is the most likely winner of the race but I just feel Foildubh might be overpriced. The connections of Bideford Legend (Charles Byrnes, Philip Enright and the Twiss Family) combine again in the staying Handicap Chase at 6.30 with The Big Boyo. This individual was subject to a monster gamble at Limerick last time out but was just touched off on very heavy ground. He will improve for the good ground and has a great each-way chance at a price of around 7/1.
Finally, the Fairyhouse Steel Joseph R. O’Reilly Memorial Hunters Chase sees the return of Cheltenham victor Salsify who is likely to go off favourite. However, I don’t fancy him as he had a very tough race at Cheltenham and I feel he might not be at his sharpest. I am going to take him on with On The Fringe who I feel would’ve gone very close at Cheltenham had he lined up. He is a more realistic price at around 4/1 and has a genius in JT McNamara on his back. Another horse worth a bet at a big price is Davy Fitzgerald’s Mister Top Notch. Owned by Marie Cronin and Tom Hogan from Askeaton, ‘Top Notch’ is a previous winner of the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase and showed he retains some of his ability in a recent Hunters Chase at this very track. At around 25/1 he is a cracking each-way bet and although he may not be as quick as he used be, he certainly still has the heart for the game.