Irish confidence mounts at the meeting place of kings

The Gaelic name for Naas is Nas Na Riogh, the meeting place of kings, a mightily overblown title if you consider the standard of horse that routinely takes to the racecourse sod here 18 miles west of Dublin.

The Gaelic name for Naas is Nas Na Riogh, the meeting place of kings, a mightily overblown title if you consider the standard of horse that routinely takes to the racecourse sod here 18 miles west of Dublin.

Woodlands Park, as it is locally known, has entertained its champions, such as Imperial Call, Limestone Lad and Danoli, who collected two bumpers here. The turf in the heart of Co Kildare has also been rearranged in the past by Mill House and the equine athlete by which all premier jumping horses are still measured, Arkle. Both won over hurdles within view of the Wicklow mountains.

Yet Naas, despite its pretensions to increasing grandeur within racing, remains true to its parochial roots. Thank heavens. Sunday, dreamy Sunday, is a recurring theme at Irish meetings such as these, when the thump of cards elsewhere is replaced by a much softer spray on the drums.

Pat Fahy, for example, was on hand to watch his Publican easily mop up the opening contest yesterday and talk warmly of an assault in just over three weeks' time on the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival. Then the trainer was swiftly off to the point-to-point at nearby Shillelagh to supervise his runners at the factory floor of his sport.

The Festival possibles spewed out yesterday. Central House, the winner of one of three Grade Two races, will run in either the Queen Mother Champion Chase or Grand Annual at the Festival, while his immediate victim, Native Upmanship, is likely to attempt the Mildmay Of Flete as he jogs into retirement. The old boy, twice a runner-up in the Champion Chase, added more treasure to a pile which numbers just over £650,000, though the flow of coins has dribbled to a trickle.

Yet his presence in the Cotswolds adds to the challenge for what could be the greatest Irish haul ever at a Festival. That total may be skewed as National Hunt's apex is run for the first time over four days and 24 races, but it does coincide with the recent resurgence in Irish racing.

If the Champion Hurdle is not transported across the sea skulls will be scratched close to the grey matter. The visitors possess the first seven in the market. Kicking King and Moscow Flyer are notable names in their respective spheres and the expectation is that at least half the favourites at Cheltenham will be supplied by Ireland.

They call it the free market, but it is the expensive one of purchasing racehorses that has revitalised Ireland's influence at the Festival. No longer does the flapping chequebook govern all in Hibernia. "The economy is good and we have gone full circle. No good horse is for sale even if everyone wants to buy one," Ted Walsh, the Cheltenham and Grand National-winning trainer, says. "It's been strong here for the last 10 years for the simple reason that there's loads of money in the country. Fellas don't want to sell a good horse. If you did you'd probably get hanged.

"One time, all the people who owned racehorses were landowners or breeders or else English people who had a horse in training in Ireland. Now everybody wants to buy a horse and quite a few of them have. They might not be able to play football or rugby or hurling for Ireland, but they can represent us at racing. Stick their chest out at Cheltenham. These days, it's possible."

* Today's meeting at Carlisle has been abandoned because the course is frozen.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Fraternity

(Wolverhampton 4.45)

NB: Hiamovi

(Lingfield 1.45)

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story