The dust has settled on the first running of the Dublin Racing Festival, with two days of top class action that will not be forgotten in a hurry. From feel good moments to the confirmation of superstars, the weekend had it all as plenty of Cheltenham Festival contenders put their credentials on the line. Now that we’ve had time to reflect, here are five things that we learned from the Dublin Racing Festival. As always, we’ll have all the build up to the Festival on our Twitter page @myracingtips and you can find all our daily horse racing tips on site now!
This was always going to be the make or break race for SAMCRO, who put his Festival credentials and unbeaten record on the line in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle. Sent off the 4/6 favourite, he cruised through the race and when given an inch of rein by Jack Kennedy, he bolted clear to win easily ahead of some very useful rivals. He was already the Irish ‘banker’ for the Cheltenham Festival, but this race all but confirmed we have a potential superstar on our hands. Now a best priced 1/1 for the Ballymore at the Festival, he would tear the house down if rising up the Prestbury Park Hill first. It’s very scary to think just how good he could really be when he’s fully unleashed.
The above statement should come as a surprise to absolutely no-one, but it is nothing short of extraordinary how he managed to get EDWULF back to his very best and beyond. Collapsing on the run-in at the Festival in 2017, he underwent treatment for over an hour on the course after suffering a fit. Thankfully, he recovered, but it was in nobodies wildest imaginations that he’d return to the racecourse to win a Grade 1 contest. It was a fitting performance, getting up late after showing plenty of guts to draw alongside course specialist Outlander, who battled him all the way to the line. It capped off a brilliant week for O’Brien, who won his second Grade 1 after Tower Hill provided him with the first just a day earlier. At just the age of 24, his best days are truly ahead and he’s a trainer who is going places in a hurry.
It was a scintillating performance that saw MIN put away some smart chasers in devastating fashion in the Grade 2 Dublin Chase, confirming his credentials for the Champion Chase. It’s the showdown we all want to see, round two of the Altior vs Min saga after the former got the better of the argument in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016. We are yet to see the machine that is Altior this season and we will learn a lot more when we hopefully get our first sighting at Newbury on Saturday, but Min has laid down a big marker for him.
It’s sad to see what has happened to YORKHILL this season, who is a horse of immense talent that just can’t seem to string it together over fences this campaign. The form of his JLT Novices’ Chase win ahead of Top Notch is extremely smart and we know he’s capable of magic on his day, but he ran his worst race yet at Leopardstown on Saturday. Yorkhill tends to pull through his races, going with enthusiasm and zest, running with very little of anything when eased up the straight on Saturday. The big question now is where next and it may be that a switch back to hurdling beckons. That said, we know he’s more than capable over fences at the Festival, so could a return to better ground be his making once more? There are endless possibilities and the answers are unlikely to be coming quickly.
It was touted as the make or break race for FAUGHEEN in the Irish Champion Hurdle and although he didn’t run a bad race by any means, it still wasn’t ‘The Machine’ at his well oiled best. Supasundae is a talented horse in his own right but his best trip lies at three miles, so it is impossible not to be disappointed by how Faugheen was out-gunned up the straight late on. Granted, it was a big step up from his run at Christmas and there are positives to take, but Buveur D’Air is going to be an even tougher task for him come March. A fairytale shouldn’t be put out of the question though, as Willie Mullins now has five weeks to prepare his star for the Champion Hurdle and we all know the magic he can pull from the hat on the biggest stage of them all.