Annie Power, Faugheen and Vroum Vroum Mag in Morgiana Hurdle mix

Annie Power, Faugheen and Vroum Vroum Mag still feature among 10 entries in Sunday’s Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Annie Power, Faugheen and Vroum Vroum Mag in Morgiana Hurdle mix

The star trio feature all run in the colours of Rich Ricci and are multiple Grade One winners in their own right, with Annie Power the reigning champion hurdler.

Faugheen will be coming back from an injury break if he lines up in the Grade One feature, with trainer Willie Mullins also having the choice of Ivan Grozny, Sempre Medici, Simenon and Nichols Canyon. The latter is the only horse to have ever beaten Faugheen after winning this race at his expense last year.

Ex-Mullins inmate Apple’s Jade, who is now with Gordon Elliott, bids to bounce back from a shock defeat at Down Royal earlier this month, while the Joseph O’Brien-trained Ivanovich Gorbatov is also on a retrieval mission after finishing only third on his return at Naas.

The Gavin Cromwell-trained Jer’s Girl, a dual Grade One winner, rounds out 10 possibles after a skin allergy forced her to miss an intended run at Navan last Sunday.

Mullins will not decide until later in the week which horses will run but is aiming to be well represented in a race he has won for the last five years.

“I expect to have a few runners in the race as it is an important race and a nice time of year,” said the Closutton handler.

“We will decide on more definite plans after the horses work this week but it is a race we are looking forward to.”

However, Mullins is not represented in either of the Grade Two races on the card.

Henry de Bromhead is enjoying a fine season and his Identity Thief is one of three possibles from his stable for the Craddockstown Novice Chase. The Grade One-winning hurdler got his chasing career off to a winning start over the course and distance last month.

De Bromhead also has Attribution and Ordinary World among eight entries for the two-mile event, in which owners Gigginstown House Stud are responsible for six.

As well as Identity Thief and Ordinary World, they have the Noel Meade-trained Road To Respect and the Gordon Elliott-trained trio of A Toi Phil, Ball D’Arc and Stone Hard. Shay Barry’s Bentilmar is the other entry.

A Toi Phil and Ball D’Arc are also among 11 entries for the Florida Pearl Novice Chase, for which Gigginstown dominate with seven possibles. The others are A Genie In A Bottle, Alpha Des Obeaux, Disko, Lieutenant Colonel and Nambour.

Call It Magic, Georges Conn, Jetsream Jack and Space Cadet make up the list.

Conditions are expected to ease at Punchestown ahead of this weekend’s two-day meeting.

The going is currently described as yielding, yielding to soft in places.

“The forecast is for it to get colder and more rain on the way with heavy showers over the coming days,” said racecourse manager Richie Galway.

“If the forecast is correct I expect the ground to be soft at the weekend. I don’t expect to have any issues with the threat of frost.

“We’ve had a dry autumn and it looks like a lot of the top horses are going to be unleashed over the coming weeks and we are looking forward to two great days.

“The Morgiana, without fail, turns up a superstar. It may not be huge numbers, but huge on quality.

“We also have a nice banks race on Saturday. They are getting more competitive.”

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