Faugheen, Melon and Defi Du Seuil head the final field of
eight runners for the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on the opening day of
the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs, will be ridden by
British Champion jockey Richard Johnson who is bidding for his first Grade 1
success at Leopardstown since his victory on Florida Pearl in the Unibet Irish
Gold Cup in 2004.
In addition to early favourites Faugheen and Melon, champion
trainer Willie Mullins will also run Bapaume. Mick Jazz won the Grade 1 Ryanair
Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and carries the hopes of Gordon
Elliott and Davy Russell, while Jessica Harrington is doubly represented by
Supasundae, the mount of Robbie Power, and Jezki which will be ridden by Mark
Walsh. Last year’s winning trainer Henry De Bromhead runs Identity Thief.
Seven runners will go to post for the Grade 2 Coral Dublin
Chase and again the big three here have all stood their ground. Min and
Yorkhill give Willie Mullins the strongest hand with the Nicky Richards-trained
Simply Ned providing the chief opposition.
Willie Mullins’ Footpad and the Henry De Bromhead-trained
Petit Mouchoir - high-class hurdlers which are both unbeaten over fences - are
among the five runners for the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase.
The first of seven Grade 1 races over the weekend is the
Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle and the final line-up of
seven is headed by the Gordon Elliott-trained Dortmund Park, Mullins’ Fabulous
Saga and De Bromhead’s Dicey O’reilly.
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said:
“It’s an incredible opening day to the first Dublin Racing Festival and all the
stars we hoped to see will be at Leopardstown on Saturday. Everything looks set
fair and while a little rain is forecast for early on Saturday morning, the
weekend’s weather is looking very favourable meaning perfect conditions for