FAIRYHOUSE'S Easter Festival comes to a slightly underwhelming conclusion this afternoon, with the newly positioned Normans Grove Chase attracting a paltry four runners.
That is no different from what is normally the case for the Grade Two, but the final line-up does little to justify the decision to switch the race with the Dan Moore Chase, a competitive handicap that was the traditional highlight of this card.
With the switch of the Dan Moore – transferred to Punchestown after successive attempts to hold it here in January were foiled by the weather – also backfiring, it would be no surprise if the status quo were to be restored next year.
Henry De Bromhead's Days Hotel, beaten just once in five starts over fences, will be a prohibitive odds-on favourite for today's €37,500 two-mile contest.
Foildubh, his most obvious danger, has failed in three previous attempts to beat Andrew Lynch's mount, including when in receipt of the same 6lb concession that he is here.
Bob Lingo shares the same 148 rating as Foildubh, but hasn't been in the sort of form that would suggest he will trouble Days Hotel, which boasts a mark of 159.
De Bromhead's eight-year-old produced a polished display over this trip at Naas in February, taking full advantage of Realt Dubh's last-fence howler to score.
If he runs to a similar level here, little will trouble him. The same partnership could secure a quick double in the www.tote.com Handicap Hurdle, an immensely competitive affair comprising 23 runners vying for a €37,375 first place prize.
Sizing Machine is their representative in this two-miler. The five-year-old had its first start since the autumn when fourth behind Summer Star at Leopardstown last month.
That was a fair effort on his handicap bow as it took a while for the penny to drop, so he is fancied to have a big say now off a 2lb higher mark on just his sixth run.
Shadow Catcher, fourth for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon in the County Hurdle, is the most obvious danger to the selection in first-time blinkers.
Gillian O'Callaghan's Mad Brian is another with a live chance under a fair weight in what is a wide-open contest, having run away with a Navan hurdle last month.
Willie Mullins will saddle just four runners all day, 50pc of which make up half of the field in the curtain-raising Weatherbys Ireland GSB Hurdle.
Ruby Walsh is booked for Dogora with Paul Townend on Djakadam, and the apparent second string appeals more on the back of a commanding triumph at Limerick in March.
In the John & Chich Fowler Memorial Mares' Chase, Prunella Dobbs' frustrating Our Girl Salley is overdue a big turn under Barry Geraghty, with Nicky Henderson's Nadiya De La Vega likely to prove a serious threat for AP McCoy if she recaptures her best. JP McManus' In Great Form gets the nod in the three-mile handicap chase.
Twice a winner here last term, Fran Flood's eight-year-old has dropped 4lb in the handicap after a few tame efforts, which gives him a chance under Mark Walsh.
The day's nap vote goes to Ballydoyle's Draco in the €100,000 bumper.
On its recent Limerick bow, the Hernando four-year-old tired into third after assuming the lead early on under Sarah O'Brien, so he should come on a bundle for that experience.