Leopardstown Christmas Festival ends on a high note


Saturday, December 29, 2018
Sharjah

Patrick Mullins with Sharjah after winning the Ryanair Hurdle (Grade 1) Leopardstown. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 29.12.2018


All eyes at Leopardstown were fixed on the clash of Samcro and Melon in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle but it was Willie Mullins' Sharjah who stole the show with a sublime turn of foot in the day four feature of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival. 
 
The improving five-year-old travelled powerfully into contention before taking over at the final flight, clearing away from his rivals under an ecstatic Patrick Mullins. Irish Champion Hurdle hero Supasundae stayed on gallantly into second for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.
 
The 6-1 winner, who has already landed the Galway Hurdle at Ballybrit and Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown this season, could next be seen at the Dublin Racing Festival back at Leopardstown in February.
 
Earlier on the card, Delta Work maintained his unbeaten record over fences when scoring by eight lengths in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase under Davy Russell for Gordon Elliott. He looks to be a very exciting prospect.

The four days at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival provided a magnificent display of  quality Irish National hunt racing. The attendance today was 11,106, compared to 10,907 in 2017, bringing total attendees over the four days to 56,322 .

Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, commented: 
"What a wonderful way to finish out the 2018 Leopardstown Christmas Festival. We have been blessed with the weather for the four days and Willie Gibbons and his ground staff have done an impeccable job as always to keep the track in pristine condition. We're delighted to see such a great spread of winning owners and trainers and that was evident in the O'Driscoll O'Neil Insurance Brokers Leading Jockey and Trainer Award with Mark Walsh taking leading jockey and Willie Mullins as leading trainer including a sublime performance from Sharjah in the Ryanair Hurdle.

We would like to thank our great customers, sponsors and partners for their continued support not only today but across the four days. We have plenty to look forward to in the New Year with the return of the Dublin Racing Festival on the 2nd and 3rd of February. This was one of the most exciting events to hit Dublin this year as we hosted a celebration of racing, food, music, culture and we can’t wait to start the New Year in the same fashion. 2019 is going to be another busy year at Leopardstown!"


DAY 1: 26th December
Joseph O'Brien celebrated his third Grade 1 success in less than a year at his beloved Leopardstown as Le Richebourg stormed to victory in the feature Racing Post Novice Chase on day one of the Christmas Festival. The strongly-supported 3-1 shot could be called the winner some way from home and cruised to victory in the hands of Mark Walsh by four and a half lengths from stalemate Us And Them who completed a 1-2 for O'Brien.

There was an upset in the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle as Rocky Blue landed the spoils for the father and son combination of Tom and David Mullins at odds of 14-1. Fair weather and top class racing gave rise to a fine attendance of 13,218.  A very fair day on track resulted in seven trainers and six jockeys sharing the spoil across the opening day card.

DAY 2: 27th December
It was another memorable sporting day for Limerick as Auvergnat, owned by JP McManus, trained in Bruree by Enda Bolger and ridden by Donie McInerney who only lives ten minutes away from Bolger's base, landed the Paddy Power Chase on day two of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival; Paddy Power Day. The unconsidered 28-1 outsider jumped for fun in the hands of last season's champion conditional and stormed to a six-and-a-half-length success over Vieux Morvan with Fitzhenry in third and Solomn Grundy in fourth. The strongly-supported favourite, Any Second Now, finished fifth. 

The first Grade 1 of the day went to Simply Ned for the second year on the trot for Nicky Richards with a win in the Paddy's Rewards Club Sugar Paddy Chase. Footpad looked home and hosed halfway up the run-in but tied up close home and Simply Ned pounced under a perfectly-timed challenge from Mark Walsh to win at 16-1. 

Aramon sprinted clear to lead home a 1-2 for Willie Mullins in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.

In the leading trainer and leading jockey award kindly sponsored by O'Driscoll O'Neil Insurance Brokers; Jockey Mark Walsh took a commanding lead with three wins in the opening three races on day 2 with five overall with amateur Finian Maguire closest with 2.

DAY 3: 28th December
Kemboy delivered a scintillating success in the feature Savills Chase on day three of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. The 8-1 shot provided Willie Mullins with his second win in the race, three years after Don Poli provided him with his first, and it was yet another Grade 1 for Supreme Racing whose colours were carried to victory by Aramon in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle on Thursday. David Mullins took the bull by the horns passing the stands with a circuit to race, deciding to send Kemboy to the head of affairs. It was a masterstroke as the six-year-old led them a merry dance on the way to a seven-and-a-half length win over Monalee. 

Earlier on the card, Apple's Jade retained her Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle crown by no fewer than 26 lengths to great cheers from the crowd as she won her ninth Grade 1 race, an amazing achievement for a six year old.

DAY 4: 29th December 
All eyes at Leopardstown were fixed on the clash of Samcro and Melon in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle but it was Willie Mullins' Sharjah who stole the show with a sublime turn of foot in the day four feature of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival. 
 
The improving five-year-old travelled powerfully into contention before taking over at the final flight, clearing away from his rivals under an ecstatic Patrick Mullins. Irish Champion Hurdle hero Supasundae stayed on gallantly into second for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.
 
The 6-1 winner, who has already landed the Galway Hurdle at Ballybrit and Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown this season, could next be seen at the Dublin Racing Festival back at Leopardstown in February.
 
Earlier on the card, Delta Work maintained his unbeaten record over fences when scoring by eight lengths in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase under Davy Russell for Gordon Elliott. He looks to be a very exciting prospect

We would like to thank our great customers, sponsors and partners for their continued support not only today but across the four days. We have plenty to look forward to in the New Year with the return of the Dublin Racing Festival on the 2nd and 3rd of February

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