Eight Grade Ones over the space of just two days, over €2 million in prize money and the best jumpers Ireland has to offer. The third edition of the Dublin Racing Festival from Leopardstown comes to us this weekend. Here’s the lowdown on one of the best National Hunt festivals around.
The action is no less exciting from the UK. The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase from Sandown is the feature on Saturday live on ITV Racing, with the action from Musselburgh and Wetherby playing a strong supporting role. Be sure to check out all our tips and analysis over the weekend, as well as our Free Bets.
12.50 Nathaniel Lacy Novice Hurdle 2m6f
The novice hurdlers are the focus of attention of the first race. The 2019 edition went to Gordon Elliott and his Commander Of Fleet, who placed in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. If taking part, there will be few opposing the unbeaten Envoi Allen, who is a perfect seven from seven under rules. He arrives here seeking a Grade One three-timer after victory in both the Royal Bond and Lawlor’s Of Naas.
*Envoi Allen is absent from the acca, because he isn’t certain to race this weekend.
1.25 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase 2m1f
Min has won both renewals of this speed test for the chasers. There’s a rival to his crown also sporting the Ricci colours and trained by Willie Mullins. Chacun Pour Soi has enjoyed an interrupted career but looked a world beater when landing a Grade One at Punchestown in May. The second Defi Du Seuil has franked the form in no uncertain terms and his recent comeback second to A Plus Tard, whilst not fulfilling market expectations, will have put him spot on for this.
2.00 ERSG Arkle Novice Chase
Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg impressed when scoring in 2019 and the yard have a live chance with Fakir D’oudairies. He looks sure to be thereabouts, but the more interesting runner is Notebook, who overcame that rival in the Racing Post Novice Chase on St. Stephen’s Day over course and distance. Henry De Bromhead’s charge has taken his form to a new level since going over fences, winning all three starts. A fourth success looks a distinct possibility.
3.10 PCI Irish Champion Hurdle 2m
Last year’s winner Apple’s Jade is absent from proceedings, but the 2018 victor Supasundae will be making his belated return. Likeable and versatile though he is, he’s likely to need the run. This looks a good opportunity for the mare Honeysuckle to further enhance her reputation. Six-from-six over hurdles, including the Hatton’s Grade in December, she drops back to two-miles for the first time since 2018. That looks unlikely to trouble her though, and an impressive victory here could see connections target the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
1.25 Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle 2m
Henry De Bromhead has another warm order here in the form of Aspire Tower. Rated 86 on the level, he’s impressed when winning both starts over hurdles. A thirteen length victory on debut was followed by a demolition job in a Grade Two over course and distance over Christmas. Already favourite for the Triumph, his price could constrict even more if scoring here.
1.55 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle 2m
Willie Mullins has won six of the last seven renewals. His dominance might not continue this year though, with the first three in the betting trained by Gordon Elliott. Envoi Allen looks unlikely to take up this option, leaving the path open to Abacadabras, whose sole defeat over timber came to that rival in the Royal Bond in December. He made amends for that defeat with an impressive eight-length victory here four weeks later. He’ll be bidding to emulate last year’s winner Klassical Dream, who followed success here with victory in the Supreme, for which he’s joint favourite.
3.00 Flogas Novice Chase 2m5f
Rather surprisingly, this contest went to Britain and Warren Greatrex’s La Bague Au Roi last year. Laurina is representing the girls this year around but she needs to make amends for an underwhelming run here on St. Stephen’s Day. Her stablemate Faugheen holds far stronger claims. The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner has impressed since switching to chasing, winning both starts including at Limerick over Christmas when accounting for Samcro.
3.30 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup 3m
The feature of a fantastic two-days racing, the 2017 winner Sizing John and last year’s victor Bellshill are bidding to retain their crowns. Both have had far from flawless careers since success here though. Kemboy didn’t fulfil market expectations on his return, but he was a creditable fourth after a 241 day absence over track and trip in the Savills’ Chase. Not far behind the race fit Delta Work, Willie Mullins’ charge could exact his revenge today before heading to Cheltenham.