Cheltenham hero Duc heads contenders for Ryanair Gold

Willie Mullins dominates Fairyhouse Grade One entry

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Arkle Trophy hero Duc Des Genievres is one of 17 remaining contenders for the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was a hugely impressive 13-length winner on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival last month and could bid to follow up on Easter Sunday.

This two-and-a-half-mile contest is one of the few Grade One prizes in Ireland to so far elude the champion trainer – and he appears intent on breaking that statistic with Duc De Genievres heading an eight-strong team.

The Mullins octet also includes the runaway Naas winner Chacun Pour Soi, Burrows Saint and Getabird – who has not been seen in competitive action since suffering an odds-on defeat at Limerick over the Christmas period.

Gordon Elliott has Champagne Classic, Cubomania, Hardline and Mengli Khan in the mix, while Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard could step up in class after dominating a Cheltenham Festival handicap on his latest appearance.

Aidan Howard’s Winter Escape and Pat Doyle’s Kaiser Black also feature in what promises to be a fascinating contest.

The other Grade One on Sunday’s card is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

Mullins has won this race four times in the last six years, with Annie Power (2013) and Laurina (2018) among those on the roll of honour.

The Closutton handler has no less than 10 possible runners this season, including Eglantine Du Seuil and Concertista – who were separated by just a short-head when first and second respectively in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

Robin De Carlow and Salsaretta are others Mullins could call upon, but perhaps the one to beat is De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle.

The daughter of Sulamani is unbeaten in four starts – including a point-to-point – and completed her hat-trick over hurdles with a dominant Grade Three success at Fairyhouse in January.

She was forced to miss an intended trip to Cheltenham after suffering a setback, but will head into the spring a fresh horse as a result.

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