Mullins and Elliott dominate Ryanair field

Powerhouse stables supply four of five in Fairyhouse Grade One

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Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are both double-handed after just five runners were declared for the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

Mullins had no fewer than eight contenders at the confirmation stage, including Arkle hero Duc Des Genievres and the high-class Getabird.

However, the champion trainer has whittled his team down to two – with Ruby Walsh partnering Voix Du Reve and Paul Townend on board Real Steel.

Voix Du Reve has failed to complete in his last two starts, most recently unseating Walsh in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham – a race in which Real Steel finished sixth.

The highest-rated runner is Elliott’s Mengli Khan, who was third in the JLT and occupied the same finishing position in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree little over a fortnight ago.

Mengli Khan is joined by stablemate Cubomania, with Aidan Howard’s stable star Winter Escape completing the field.

Mullins is responsible for seven of the 17 runners in the other Grade One on Easter Sunday – the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

The champion trainer has claimed this prize four times in the last six years, with Annie Power (2013) and Laurina (2018) among those on the roll of honour.

This year’s challenge is headed by Eglantine Du Seuil – winner of the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

The Closutton squad also includes Robin De Carlow, Salsaretta and Sancta Simona, but perhaps the one to beat is Henry 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.

Other contenders include Jonjo O’Neill’s British raider Annie Mc, Philip Dempsey’s Caravation and Elliott’s pair of Black Tears and Tintangle.

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