As the evenings begin to close in, the wraps are coming off the biggest equine names in the National Hunt game. For so many, the autumn and winter months are all about the return of the likes of Apple's Jade, Samcro, Sizing John and Our Duke.

    For so many, it is the most exciting time of the year. Over the next few weeks, the long road to the major spring festivals begins in earnest. The first Grade 1 of the season takes place at Down Royal in early November with both Punchestown and Fairyhouse playing host to major events soon after. The Christmas festivals at Leopardstown and Limerick are other huge attractions for the seasoned racing enthusiast and the social racegoer alike. Into the New Year, the countdown to the major spring meetings picks up speed. Who knows what future stars could be in midweek action at Tramore, Thurles, Clonmel and Downpatrick.

    The long-established trials days at Naas, Navan, Gowran Park and Leopardstown certainly whet the appetite for the end of season extravaganzas at Fairyhouse and Punchestown where we can expect to see the leading players from Cheltenham and Aintree.

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