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Horse Racing - Racing: Galopin Des Champs headlines Easter feast

The long Easter Weekend is upon us and that means a frenzy of high-quality racing action across Britain and Ireland in the coming days.

Newbury is centre-stage on Saturday, with day one of their Spring Trials Weekend including a trio of Group 3 contests as Flat-racing returns to the Berkshire venue.

They also race on a busy Easter Sunday, while Fairyhouse boasts a pair of Grade 1s over the jumps, including the Gold Cup Novice Chase (16:55) where Galopin Des Champs will attempt to atone for his Cheltenham Festival heartache.

On to Bank Holiday Monday and the Irish Grand National (17:00) is the big event on a day with no less than nine race meetings taking place.

We look ahead to a busy weekend of racing action both on the Flat and over jumps, with all the action available on our Sports Live Streaming platform and our Best Odds Guaranteed on offer.

Trials Day at Newbury

Newbury's card gets under way on Saturday with the John Porter Stakes (13.50), a Group 3 contest over a mile-and-a-half. William Haggas' Ilaraab goes well fresh and is 10/3 to start the season with a bang.

He had re-opposing Max Vega, priced at 5/1, behind in second when winning the St Simon Stakes over course and distance in the autumn.

Mark Johnston's Thunderous ran some big races in defeat last season in good company and, gelded over the winter, is 3/1 to kick-start his season with a win.

Following that is The Fred Darling Stakes (14.25), in which Wild Beauty is 9/4 for the red-hot Charlie Appleby team.

The Godolphin trainer is boasting a strike-rate of close to 53 per cent in recent weeks and this Frankel filly was a top-level scorer in Canada last season, while she also ran well in the bet365 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket, behind ante-post 1000 Guineas favourite Inspiral on her final juvenile start.

She's the one to beat, tough the Gosdens' Shaara at 9/2 and Roger Charlton's 9/2 chance Jumbly will have plenty to offer too.

The feature race at Newbury on Saturday is the Greenham Stakes (15.00), as some of last season's speediest youngsters look to prove their stamina now facing into their Classic campaigns.

Richard Fahey's Perfect Power is 9/4 and twice scored in Group 1 sprints last season, though Ralph Beckett's Angel Bleu - priced at 7/4 - also won twice at the top level in France and managed it over a mile, so stamina could be key for Frankie Dettori's mount.

Richard Hannon fires two, with speedy Lusail at 9/2 and Gubbass at 9/1. The latter has already run well behind Perfect Power and might improve upped in trip at a track where he's done well before.

Challengers Finals at Haydock

There's plenty jumps action on Saturday too, with Haydock's Challenger Series Finals taking place and the three-day Irish National Festival getting started at Fairyhouse.

In the Mares' Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle (14.09) at Haydock, Henry Daly's Lime Drop will be aiming to bring an end to the winning sequence of Neil Mulholland's Peltwell - winner of her last seven.

Smart Flat performer Zabeel Champion could have a major say in the Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle (15.19) for Jonjo O'Neil Snr and Jnr.

Meanwhile, Ann Hamilton's Bavington Bob has won four on the spin over fences and goes for another in the Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Handicap Chase (15.52) - though it's a quick turnaround after his win at Kelso 12 days ago and the handicapper has put him up another 9lb.

Maid O'Malley was in the process of running a mighty race in the Grade 2 Mares' Chase at last month's Cheltenham Festival when she fell at the second last and, with champion jockey-elect Brian Hughes taking over, she should prove a popular pick in the Challenger Series Mares' Chase Final Handicap Chase (17.01).

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Love in the air at Fairyhouse

A brace of Grade 1 contests at Fairyhouse headline the Easter Sunday action, with seven cards across Britain and Ireland.

Cheltenham Festival winner Love Envoi is making the journey into the lion's den for the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final (15.10), with €60,000 on offer to the winner.

Love Envoi made it 5-5 over hurdles in the Cotswolds, bagging the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle, and will meet plenty of her vanquished rivals again now. Amongst them is Dinoblue, the Willie Mullins-trained hotpot who was only able to manage ninth at Cheltenham.

Ireland's champion trainer is responsible for a whopping eight of the 16-runner field, as he attempts to atone for that setback last month and stable jockey Paul Townend prefers the ride on Brandy Love, despite that mare proving hard to steer at this track in February when she veered wildly to her left and threw away victory.

Galopin bids for redemption

There's no doubting that Galopin Des Champs was going to prove one of the most impressive winners at last month's Cheltenham Festival had he not buckled after landing over the final jump, handing the Turners Novices' Chase to Bob Olinger in the process.

Even allowing for that mishap, Willie Mullins' inmate made a massive statement with his performance to that point in the Cotswolds.

He's the headline act in the Gold Cup Novice Chase (16.55) on Sunday afternoon at Fairyhouse.

Already trading at 4/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2023, Galopin Des Champs will be expected to confirm Dublin Racing Festival superiority over Master McShee and his four other rivals here.

National season concludes on Easter Monday

As always, Easter Monday is the home for the Irish Grand National (17.00) at Fairyhouse and a strong field with gather bidding to land the €275k bounty on offer to the winner.

Gaillard Du Mesnil is yet to win over fences, but he has shown lots of promise behind the likes of Grade 1 winners Bob Olinger, Galopin Des Champs and L'homme Presse and is trading at 7/1 to hand Willie Mullins his second win in the Easter showpiece, after Burrows Saint won in 2019.

It's perhaps something of a surprise the Closutton maestro has just a single win in this race, but rarely can he have fired a horse with more potential at the prize. Burrows Saint was just six when he won as a novice and Gaillard Du Mesnil is in the same category now.

The Ciaran Murphy-trained Enjoy D'allen was a leading fancy at Aintree last week, but his challenge didn't get beyond the first fence, as Conor Orr was thrown overboard.

A mark of 148 is attractive in the Irish National for a horse that finished third last year and he could be decent value at 16/1 for the Fairyhouse contest over three-miles-and-five-furlongs.

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