Here we go! Day one of the Leopardstown Dublin Festival. Cheltenham may be longer but this is going to be special, two days of quality racing and if you can get out to South Dublin, GO!
First up is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle over two mile six furlongs. Laid out as Samcros race but he has diverted to the Deloitte, leaving a field of seven.. Dortmund Park is taken to build on his Thurles romp and while Cheltenham may not be his bag this looks an open opportunity. Through the 137 rated Beyond The Law, beaten twenty two lengths by Dortmund Park, he should be to good for these. Mullins two have to be respected, Fabulous Saga and Carter McKay, the former needs to jump better and the ground may not be bottomless enough. Carter McKay is an interesting one but for me he hasn’t gone on from his early bumper form. Dicey O’Reilly won well over Christmas but he needs to improve. Dortmund Park by a street to get us off to a flyer.
The second race on the card is a mouth watering race between Min and Yorkhill. I love Yorkhill but I couldn’t back him here at odds on. He is a certifiable lunatic and while its a plus to go left handed, he jumped erratically the last day in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase. The jury is out and he needs to prove it to me on the track. Min was terribly disappointing but on the whole he has had very little racing and can step forward again. Willie Mullins team were a little below par over Christmas and Min ran well in spite of that. He should reverse that form with Simply Ned and will take all the beating. Special Tiara and Simply Ned are admirable warriors but should just be battling out for third place.
One of the clashes of the weekend up next in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase. Footpad is the long odds on favourite and should take Petit Mouchoir this day, given the latter interrupted preparation. Petit Mouchoir has beaten Footpad three times over hurdles including at Cheltenham and this is a natural stepping stone to that race. The horse I give a squeak to is Demi Sang, he won well at Naas staying on well and the fast pace here should suit. He could pick up the pieces if the principles falter.
A fiendishly difficult handicap chase next up over two miles in the Coral Sandyford Handicap Chase. Bel Ami De Sivola just failed over Christmas period and Blast of Koeman was third in the same race. They should be involved again, while Kilfenora and That’s A Wrap could have more to come. Tully East will likely be aimed at Cheltenham festival, where he won last year. Sometimes you need an experience in a race like this, Some Plan ticks a lot of them boxes. Won the Irish Arkle last year in a farcical race when he was the only finisher. He was highly tried after that and the handicapper has relented. Some Plan showed improvement the last day finishing third off a similar weight in a similar race. He has a massive each way chance.
The big one next up, Bhp Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, Faugheen the mere mortal (doesn’t sound as good as the machine) . If he came here straight from Fairyhouse he would be a long odds on shot, however he stopped off at the Christmas festival and with no explanation for that dismal performance forthcoming, you could not be confident in backing him. Hopefully he puts up a performance worthy of the race and in truth with a stone in hand he should. Melon and Defi Du Seuil are also on retrieval missions after disappointing earlier in the season. With the dead eight there is each way thievery available. Jezki is a massive price, placed five times from seven runs over course and distance. While he is getting on a bit he has shown over the years that he has a big one in him each year. Jezki can run into a place at least here.
A massive twenty nine runners take to the Coral Hurdle handicap. A wide open contest, and firing two darts. On The Go Again runs here off a very favourable mark and has been crying out for a big field. He is still unexposed over hurdles in handicaps and could be more to come from him. On The Go Again ran in a graded race last week at Naas. That appears to have been a pipe opener and this is likely to have been the plan for a while.
The other is Minds Eye, an improving novice and a drop down to what is his optimum trip. He didn’t have the clearest of run over Christmas and showed a nice turn of foot to win a tad snugly.
Goffs Future Stars wraps up the card and its hard to see past Rapid Escape, the son of Doyen won a listed bumper by eleven lengths last time out. That is by far the best form on offer and while there are some unexposed types, the proven form in the book is for me and hopefully I won’t be making a Rapid Escape.
13.10 Dortmund Park Win 7/4
13.45 Min Win 5/2
14.20 Demi Sang Win 16/1 Already advised
14.55 Some Plan E/W 16/1
15.30 Jezki E/W 33/1
16.05 Minds Eye Win 8/1
On The Go Again E/W 25/1
16.40 Rapid Escape Win 13/8