14:30 Arkle Novice Chase
Five of eight runners go for Willie Mullins, and his pool includes Dystart Dynamo and 2021 Supreme Hurdle winner Appreciate It (last successful over fences, when he saw off Gaelic Arc by 21 lengths at Naas). Of course, though, it's two non-Mullins entries who spark our attention. Joseph O'Brien's Banbridge, a winner at the Cheltenham November meeting, will meet last year's Triumph Hurdle second, Fil Dor, who runs for Gordon Elliott (we'll see that race's victor, Vauban, on Sunday).
15:05 Irish Gold Cup
It's the big one, and the return of the big dog. Well, two big dogs, in truth. The Big Dog (who runs for Peter Fahey), and the season's 'big dog', Galopin Des Champs, who sets off for Willie Mullins. This is the first time we've seen Galopin, now Gold Cup favourite, since Christmas, when he beat Fakir D'Oudairies in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown. Can Kemboy, who has Rachael Blackmore booked (and was second to Envoi Allen, her mount that day, in the Champion Chase at Down Royal), pose a threat to his dominance? Or could it be Grand National second Any Second Now who stages a surprise theft of the limelight?
13:40 Novice Steeplechase
While Saturday nominally hosts our meeting's feature, it's Sunday the magic is made. Today's first Grade 1, however, is another reminder that, this year at least, British trainers are notable only by their absence. Mighty Potter pits up against James De Berlais, who transferred from Robert Collet to Willie Mullins at the turn of 2020/21. With Kilcruit and El Fabiolo also entered, this must, surely, be a contest that belongs to Irish training's father, fresh from his 4,000th career win last weekend.
14:25 Dublin Chase
Featuring one of our only British travellers (Alan King's Sceau Royal) this is another clash of Mullins battleaxes: Gentleman De Mee (a winner over Edwardstone at Aintree last year) and recent Leopardstown success story Blue Lord. Fastorslow completes the lineup, togther with Dunvegan, a Peter Fahey stablestar who, though discouraging in the Tingle Creek, stayed up for second in a two-miler at Fairyhouse last month.
15:10 Irish Champion Hurdle
Constitution Hill may be our new hurdling king, but Honeysuckle reigns still as our undisputed queen. This, of course, is her festival... even if the likes of State Man and Vauban may yet spoil the party. Realistically, they have every intention of doing so. State Man was a brave warrior when he stayed on in the County Hurdle last March, and Vauban returns bouyed by a Matheson win here, at Leopardstown's hugely popular Christmas Festival just two months gone. You'd be wrong to rule Pied Piper out of the placings, too. He was but 2 3/4 lengths off Vauban in the Triumph Hurdle, beaten to second only by Fil Dor's neck.