“We got nearer than we’ve ever got to Hurricane Fly (at Leopardstown) over Christmas. We were only half a length behind him. We’ll make a race of it and it will be a great spectacle for everybody that comes racing. “There was never going to be any easy races for him this season. He was always going to be taking on Hurricane Fly and he is a formidable opponent.” While Harrington is delighted with her stable star’s condition, she believes he will not hit his peak until defending his crown at Cheltenham in March. “He’s pretty close to 100 per cent but is always a better horse in the spring. He comes to life then, and better ground certainly helps. March is the day we really want him,” said the trainer. Fiscal Focus is a fascinating participant for trainer Des McDonogh, carrying the colours of leading Flat handler Jim Bolger. The four-year-old struck twice on the level when in Bolger’s care last year and made a most impressive start to his career over jumps for McDonogh when winning a Grade Two juvenile race at Leopardstown over Christmas. He is thrown in at the deep end on his second appearance over hurdles, with Mikey Fogarty keeping the ride. “It’s great to be riding in a race like this. I’m really looking forward to it. You’d have to be impressed with his last run for his first run over hurdles and we’ll see what happens on Sunday,” said Fogarty. “Hurricane Fly is a remarkable horse. He’s a legend and he still looks the best around at the minute.” Last season’s Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll represents Gordon Elliott, Bryan Cooper and Gigginstown House Stud, but was well beaten in the Ryanair Hurdle at the track last month. Aidan O’Brien’s Plinth completes the six-strong field. The prospect of better ground gives Jessica Harrington hope that Jezki can turn the tables on Hurricane Fly in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday. Last season’s Champion Hurdle winner has had to play second fiddle to Willie Mullins’ evergreen record-breaker on both his outings this campaign. “He did a nice bit of work on Tuesday and is in good form. It would be great to get nice ground and no rain. I see Willie is looking for rain, so we all want different things! They will have some new ground, which is great,” said Harrington. Press Association
Champions Dundalk will be hoping to preserve their one-hundred per cent start at home to Cork City.That kicks off at 7.45, as they do at the Brandywell where unbeaten Galway are away to Derry. Bohemians will look to make it two home wins from two when they face Wexford Youths. At 8, two more of last season’s top four meet in Tallaght as Shamrock Rovers face St Pat’s.