There will be no shortage of talent on show at the second
Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this weekend. Some of Ireland’s most
exciting chasers, hurdlers and bumper horses will face a strong cross-channel
challenge at the meeting which boasts eight Grade 1 races for the first time.
Apple’s Jade heads the six acceptors for the BHP Insurance
Irish Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival on
Saturday. Gordon Elliott’s star mare, the winner of the Squared Financial
Christmas Hurdle over three miles at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival is
on-course for an intriguing clash with the Willie Mullins-trained Melon and
Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae, winner of the race last year. She is bidding
to become the first mare to win the race in 16 years.
There are 13 horses remaining in Sunday’s Unibet Irish Gold
Cup with the Noel Meade-trained Road To Respect set to come up against a strong
Willie Mullins-trained contingent which includes Al Boum Photo, Bellshill and
Kemboy. Henry De Bromhead has left Monalee in Sunday afternoon’s feature and
also standing their ground are the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly and last
year’s hero, the Joseph O'Brien-trained Edwulf.
The first of eight Grade 1 races at the Dublin Racing
Festival is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle.
Battleoverdoyen heads the 25 entries and Gordon Elliott’s exciting six-year-old
could face rivals of the calibre of the Philip Dempsey-trained Derrinross, Pat
Fahy’s Dunvegan and the Willie Mullins-trained Relegate and Salsaretta.
Mullins certainly holds the strongest hand in the Ladbrokes
Dublin Chase with early favourites Footpad and Min going forward for the newly
promoted Grade 1 event. Course specialist Simply Ned will take his chance for
Nicky Richards and the cross-channel challenge will be greatly strengthened by
the inclusion of the Harry Whittington-trained Saint Calvados, already a winner
at Naas this season.
The Aidan Howard-trained Winter Escape is among those
remaining in the two-mile one-furlong Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle
Novice Chase where the Terence O’Brien-trained Articulum, Henry De Bromhead’s
Paloma Blue and the Gary Moore-trained Knocknanuss look worthy opposition. Le
Richebourg will certainly have his chance for Joseph O'Brien while Voix Du Reve
could yet represent champion trainer Mullins.
Winter Escape also has the option of taking on the Warren
Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi and Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work in the Grade 1
Flogas Novice Chase over two miles and five furlongs on Sunday. The first of
the Grade 1 races on the second day is the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile
Hurdle where Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap could renew rivalry for trainers Joseph
O'Brien and Willie Mullins. Gordon Elliott’s acceptors in the race include
Chief Justice and Surin.
Mullins, Elliott and Henry De Bromhead dominate the entries
for the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle. Course and distance Grade 1
winner Aramon and Klassical Dream are among the strong team the champion
trainer has to choose from while Elliott has both Vision D’honneur and a Grade
2 winner Felix Desjy. Among those De Bromhead has left in are Dancing On My Own
and Sinoria, while another of interest would be the Joseph O’Brien-trained