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Irish 16 can make mark at Meydan

TODAY we are going to look at some of the positives in Irish racing at the minute, and fresh from our 12 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, attentions are beginning to turn towards the Flat season.

On Saturday evening, the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan will feature 16 Irish-trained horses, including Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World in the feature race, with six different trainers represented on the richest race night in the world.

Many of the 16 would have pretty strong claims and it would be another huge achievement if we were to go and make a mark. The talent on offer is also rated highly abroad and Al Shaqab Racing has purchased a "significant interest" in the Coolmore-owned Ruler Of The World.


Of course, on Saturday week the focus will be on a very different stage, but just as prestigious, as it's Aintree Grand National Day and although we are surprisingly light on the ground for this year's renewal, there are still three or four in with a chance of returning the coveted Aintree showpiece to Irish shores.

Following hot on the heels of Aintree will be the Fairyhouse Grand National meeting, which will this year be sponsored by Boylesports for the first time and it's great to see the €250,000 race, which is one of the biggest in Ireland, attract a new, high-profile sponsor in these times.

Indeed, with less than five weeks to go to the start of the Punchestown Festival, it was yesterday announced that €2.5million will be raced for over their five-day meeting which runs into May this year.

An injection of €300,000 over the course of the week, including a rise in the value of the Grade One Herald Champion Novice Hurdle – won last year by Cheltenham hero Jezki – is a another real positive development for the National Hunt sphere and should help attract many of the 12 Irish-trained Cheltenham winners as well as some top English challengers.