Bumper crowds flocking to 'year's best jumps racing'
Around 100,000 well-fed revellers are expected to flock to the hugely popular Christmas racing festivals at Leopardstown and Limerick.
Today's Down Royal card is also a destination of choice for northerners looking to get some fresh air after yesterday's couch-bound festivities.
However, it is the four-day bonanzas in Munster and Leinster that are the real money spinners.
The programme at Limerick, which is subject to an 8.0am inspection, offers a total prize fund of more than €450,000, a figure that pales in comparison to the €1,254,500 on offer at the Foxrock venue.
If the elements are kind, around 40,000 will descend on the Patrickswell course, with officials at Leopardstown optimistic of trumping last year's 58,485 attendance.
Kempton's King George VI Chase card, which will see rising Irish stars Vautour and Don Cossack vie to spoil Silviniaco Conti's hat-trick bid, will be a source of particular intrigue this afternoon, with reigning champion hurdler Faugheen one of five that Willie Mullins will saddle at the London course.
However, there is no shortage of quality fare at home. The champion trainer unleashes the precocious Douvan in a cracking Racing Post Novices' Chase at Leopardstown.
Un De Sceaux is set to reappear there tomorrow, and on Monday Don Poli will lead the charge to secure Mullins a belated first Lexus Chase win, before the likes of Nichols Canyon, Arctic Fire and Identity Thief clash in Tuesday's Ryanair Hurdle.
"Once again the top horses and top jockeys converge on Leopardstown for the Christmas festival," enthused Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh.
"It is simply the best jumps racing you will see in Ireland this year."