THE three-time Grade 1 winner El Fabiolo is the star attraction among the entries for Sunday’s Grade 2 Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
A leading novice chaser for Willie Mullins last season, El Fabiolo secured Grade 1 honours at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown to surge into the top five rated chasers in Ireland with his rapid progression at the major festivals.
El Fabiolo will be the latest potential star two miler to represent Ireland’s champion trainer in the Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase as Willie Mullins seeks a 15th win in the race since 2007.
Energumene, Chacun Pour Soi, Un De Sceaux and Douvan are among some of the Closutton-housed winners of this race in recent years and El Fabiolo will face a maximum of six rivals on Sunday.
Gavin Cromwell’s Aintree Grand National runner-up Vanillier is a fascinating inclusion among the entries. The eight-year-old may begin his season over the minimum trip on Sunday having run a gallant race in the most famous marathon jump race last season.
Fil Dor and Riviere D’etel will bid to give red-hot trainer Gordon Elliott further success. Elliott is looking to add the Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase to races such as the Bar One Troytown Chase, the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle which he has snared in recent weeks.
Henry de Bromhead may also be double-handed with Jungle Boogie possibly making his first start for the trainer on his return from a 708-day break, while Cheltenham Festival winner Maskada is de Bromhead’s other inclusion. Pat Foley’s five-time winner Rebel Gold makes up the possible line-up.
Sunday’s card at Cork also features the Grade 2 O’Flynn Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase, which will have a small but select field. Willie Mullins is again the trainer with the most intriguing entry as Grade 1 juvenile hurdler Zenta is entered to make her chasing debut.
The four-year-old was third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham before going on to score at Grade 1 level at Aintree and is joined in the race by stable companions Hauturiere and Heia.
Gordon Elliott’s Harmonya Maker scored at Gowran Park and steps up in grade for this assignment, while Con O’Keeffe’s Silent Approach and the Nigel Slevin-trained Fizzle Rock complete the six entries.
The Grade 3 Singletons Supervalu Stayers' Novice Hurdle is annually a race to follow and this Sunday’s renewal features six recent winners among the 11 entries.
Gordon Elliott’s team is spearheaded by the Bective Stud-owned Better Days Ahead and the Gigginstown House Stud-trained Croke Park, while Henry de Bromhead may saddle impressive Naas winner Mahon’s Way.
Lecky Watson was fourth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and opened his hurdling account at Thurles last month, while Enda Bolger’s course and distance winner Solitary Man returns to the scene of his novice hurdle win five weeks ago.