Two weeks have passed since we reviewed all the latest National Hunt news from Ireland and in that time there have been some imperious performances from some of the premier equine stars in the Emerald Isle. Our Jumping Over The Irish Sea feature will not only touch on those displays, but also picks out some names to watch out for over the coming weeks.
Fever Has Champagne Moment In Clomel Oil Success
Champagne Fever kicked off his campaign with a mightily-impressive victory in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase and the Willie Mullins-trained dual Cheltenham Festival winner is now only a best-priced 7/1 shot for next month's King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Last season's Arkle Trophy runner-up was expected to face a stiff test on his seasonal reappearance with veteran chaser Sizing Europe locking horns with the Co. Carlow inmate. However, the former Champion Chaser was unable to give weight away to his younger rival and was struggling a long way from home, as Paul Townend eased clear of the field to eventually beat Alderwood by six lengths. As well as being trimmed for the King George, the seven-year-old was cut in the Cheltenham Gold Cup market and whilst he still needs to show he can stay up to and beyond three miles many National hunt aficionados will be snapping the 12/1 available about him winning the Gold Cup in March.
Fly Downs Jezki In Morgiana Thriller
Ruby Walsh's ecstatic celebration on board Hurricane Fly as he downed reigning Champion Hurdler Jezki in the Morgiana Hurdle just emphasised what it meant for the veteran to bag another Grade 1 success over timber at the weekend. Some had written off the Willie Mullins-trained star after he struggled to land any significant blow in the Champion Hurdle in March, but he showed he still oozes class as he quickened in scintillating style to launch past Jezki to win the Punchestown event for the third year running. Bookmakers are still dangling a carrot about the 20-times Grade 1 winner being able to win a third Champion Hurdle crown in the spring and he is 16/1, but who's to say he doesn't have a couple more top notch wins in his locker as he ventures into the twilight of his career.
Novice Stars Propel Into Festival Limelight
Over the last couple of weeks there have been a plethora of impressive victories by emerging youngsters in Ireland and yet again the aforementioned Mullins has an abundance of novices to keep an eye over the coming weeks. Black Hercules may have disappointed in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but he was eye-catching on his hurdling debut at Cork, whilst Punchestown Festival Bumper winner Shaneshill was equally as appealing when winning at Fairyhouse on his first start over timber, and he is a prominent figure in the betting for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle. Others to catch the eye include No More Heroes, who won with aplmb at Punchestown and could be one for the notebook from Gordon Elliott's yard, whilst Shanahan's Turn strode to an easy win in the Grade 2 Florida Peal Novice Chase and is now a 20/1 shot for the JLT Novices' Chase
Faugheen Primed For Ascot Comeback
The slightest mention of Faugheen will have National Hunt fans smiling as not long ago he bounded up the Cheltenham hill to win the Neptune Novices' Hurdle in sensational fashion and Willie Mullins unbeaten hotshot is set to return to the track on Saturday in Ascot's Coral Hurdle. Already a 3/1 outright favourite for the 2015 Champion Hurdle, the six-times winner will be sent off a red-hot favourite for Saturday's Grade 2 which was won by Annie Power 12 months ago, and with the likes of Melodic Rendezvous and Lac Fontana likely to cause no problems then he could well be trimmed in the Champion Hurdle market if making a winning start to the season.
Djakadam Favourite for Hennessy Gold Cup
A brief read through this Irish review just highlights the embarrassment of riches Willie Mullins has in his Co. Carlow base and he will unleash another exciting jumping prospect on November 29 as Djakadam is already an ante-post favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. A faller when travelling well in the JLT last March, the five-year-old has been touted as a potential Gold Cup horse of the future and off what will be an attractive racing weight, the 8/1 ante-post favourite will look to grab the coveted prize away from British shores and who's to sat that Mullins won't be bagging another notable loot and taking it back across the Irish Sea.