Fever set to make Cork fizz
Champagne comeback adds the sparkle on epic weekend of action
Wow. There were plenty of high-profile entries for this weekend, but it is not until you see them all declared and ready to run that it really hits home how fantastic a spectacle of jump racing we have to look forward to at Punchestown, Cheltenham and elsewhere.
Tomorrow doesn't see any drop in the quality at either Punchestown or Cheltenham, but it is at Cork that dual Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever will make his hurdling debut and seasonal return.
Cork stage a decent seven-race card, but there is little doubt that Willie Mullins' Champagne Fever is the star attraction. He faces 21 rivals and is likely to be long odds-on.
At Punchestown, arguably Champagne Fever's most illustrious stable companion Hurricane Fly faces just Go Native, Captain Cee Bee and Unaccompanied in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle.
The Grade Two Florida Pearl Novice Chase pitches Pride Of The Artic's impressive chasing record against facile beginners' chase winner Back In Focus, while Dessie Hughes' Lyreen Legend also opposes.
In the Craddockstown Novice Chase Jessica Harrington's classy duo of Oscars Well and Jenari take on Mouse Morris's Baily Green who goes in search of an eighth win in a row, while Twinlight completes a fascinating four-horse field.
Across at Cheltenham tomorrow, Captain Conan begins the day with a decent reputation and has been backed for the Arkle at Cheltenham in recent days before he makes his debut in the Arkle Trial at 1.10 tomorrow afternoon.
Maller Tree, Black Benny, Beachdale Lad, Mart Lane and Baresi all go forward in the Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle, while Nicky Henderson's Sprinter Sacre will be the real star on show at the meeting and he is going to be around 1/6 to beat six others in the Shloer Chase at 2.20 with Oliver Brady's Imperial Shabra among them.
Jonjo O'Neill's Darlan heads the weights in the Racing Post Hurdle, which is the feature at Cheltenham tomorrow afternoon and seven Irish horses will attempt to become the first since Sizing Europe to win this race.
Moon Dice is the highest rated of them with Tom O'Brien taking the ride on Paul Flynn's Galway Hurdle winner, while Danny Mullins is over to ride his uncle's Rattan. Cause of Causes looks to have a massive chance for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon, Domination will be highly respected for Charles Byrnes and Rob Jones, while One Cool Shabra (Oliver Brady/Ryan Tracey), Glam Gerry (Colm Murphy/Brian Hayes) and Star Of Aragon (James Nash/Conor O'Farrell) complete the Irish charge.
Tony McCoy is booked on Gordon Elliott's Bondage in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, while the listed bumper sees Eddie Hales introduce a newcomer in the shape of Makethedifference, who Barry Geraghty has been booked to ride, while Danny Mullins rides Anonis for his mother Mags.