It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there are gifts aplenty over the coming days for all of us. Strangely enough, we’re not talking about Christmas, we’re talking about the festive racing from across the Irish Sea! Although much of the attention is on the King George, Ireland plays host to some brilliant racing over the coming days and we’ll have plenty of pointers towards the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals. As always, we’ll have horse racing tips for all the big races over Christmas, including the big one, the King George Chase!
26th December – Boxing Day
Some of the best of the action comes on Boxing Day, with Ireland playing host to three meetings. The best of the racing comes from Down Royal, where we get to Arkle protagonist Mengli Khan try and boost his credentials in the Racing Post Novice Chase. He faces five rivals including Voix Du Reve, but you’d be hugely disappointed if he Gordon Elliott’s charge couldn’t pass this test with flying colours.
The supporting race from Down Royal is the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, a Grade 2 contest at 1.10pm. We’ll get some good clues to Triumph, with the Gordon Elliott pair Cheif Justice and Coeur Sublime locking horns once again.
Limerick also hosts a Grade 1 contest on Boxing Day, with the 2m 6f Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase at 2pm. The notable entry is Willie Mullins’ Getabird, who looked ever so good on chasing debut on return and will be looking to justify some lofty entries.
Leopardstown hosts another two Grade 1 contests on Thursday, with some fantastic horses coming out to play. Footpad bids to shake off his seasonal reappearance when taking on Min in the Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Club “Sugar Paddy” Chase, with the livewire Great Field also likely to add some spice to an already fantastic contest.
The Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle follows shortly after and it’s a race that should give us plenty of clues for the younger horses.
It’s another two Grade 1 contests from Leopardstown on Friday with the attention focused on the longer distance horses. The first three-mile Grade 1 is the Christmas Hurdle, with some fantastic horses holding entries, including Faugheen, who is hugely interesting going back over this distance. He may, however, face the fantastic Apple’s Jade, who will make life very difficult for him. It will be a clash to savour and will give us a real clue as to whether Faugheen is a genuine contender for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The Savills Chase is perhaps the most anticipated race of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, with Gold Cup hopeful Presenting Percy potentially making his return. He’ll have Road To Respect and Bellshill to contend with, but this promises to be a thriller, especially after the wait we’ve had to see last season’s RSA Chase winner!
The final day of action from Leopardstown is headlined by the Ryanair Hurdle, a Grade 1 contest where Samcro could lock horns with the Mullins’ pair of Melon and Laurina. There is plenty of intrigue as to where Samcro will be heading come March, but you’d have to feel that a defeat here would see him heading away from the two-mile route.
Limerick also hosts some graded action, with Defi Bleu and Dorrells Pierji among the big names entered into the Grade 2 Sky Sports Racing Launching January 1st Novice Hurdle.
Whether it’s Great Britain or Ireland, we’ve got all the racing covered in our racecard section, where you can view all the analysis and entries for the coming days.