Entries for the five handicap races and both Grade 2 bumpers at next month’s Dublin Racing Festival were released this afternoon.
Two-time Dublin Racing Festival winner A Wave Of The Sea, Gaelic Warrior and Favori De Champdou feature among the handicap entries along with more recent big-race scorers Real Steel and Rebel Gold, while the likes of Lily Du Berlais, Better Days Ahead, Fascile Mode and Fancy Girl catch the eye in the bumper races at Leopardstown on Saturday, February 4 and Sunday, February 5.
Indeed, the Stuart Crawford-trained Lily Du Berlais could bid for a rather unusual double in the Grade 2 Coolmore NH Sires ‘Santiago’ Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race, a race she won in thrilling fashion last year. Up against her this time on the final race on Sunday might be two from the Willie Mullins stable, the Cork winner Fancy Girl and runaway Sligo scorer Fun Fun Fun. Also present are the Jessica Harrington-trained Marie Philippe and John McConnell’s Bold Reflection, both winners at the first time of asking in recent weeks.
Another race confined to mares is Sunday’s opening contest, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle. Davy Russell announced his short-lived retirement after winning on Liberty Dance at Thurles before Christmas and he might yet be reunited with Gordon Elliott’s charge in a contest that has also attracted Harmonya Maker from Cullentra. Grade 1 runner-up Gauloise is one of four from the Willie Mullins stable, while the Sonny Carey-trained Banntown Girl, third in the race last year, and Peter Flood’s Tullypole Annie, a winner at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival last month, are other notable entries.
Birchdale and Foxy Jacks, first and second in last year’s race for trainers Enda Bolger and Mouse Morris respectively, are among the entries for the Bulmers Handicap Chase. The Eric McNamara-trained Real Steel, winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last month, also features along with John McConnell’s hat-trick seeker Seddon, another Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Maskada beat Rebel Gold to score at Limerick at Christmas and is another to note.
Willie Mullins’ Gaelic Warrior heads the entries for the two-mile Liffey Handicap Hurdle. Last year’s winner Call Me Lyreen is there for Gordon Elliott while Joseph O'Brien has included the four-year-olds Comfort Zone and Common Practice. All Those Years could bid to give Charles Byrnes a fifth success in the race while Filey Bay is unbeaten in two starts for Emmet Mullins and is certainly an eye-catcher along with the Tony Martin-trained Good Time Jonny, a winner over three miles at the festival last year and third over that same trip at Leopardstown at Christmas.
A Wave Of The Sea might well seek a hat-trick of wins in the Sandyford Handicap Chase on the opening day of the festival. The first three horses home last year are engaged once again and Joseph O'Brien’s entrant could renew rivalry with the John Ryan-trained Grange Walk and Ted Walsh’s Batcio. Pat Foley’s Rebel Gold, successful in last Saturday’s Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse, looks a big player as does the Gavin Cromwell-trained Final Orders which notched up his fourth straight win when successful at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Gordon Elliott has 11 horses in the three-mile Race And Stay At Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle and among them are Favori De Champdou which made it three wins in-a-row with a Grade 2 novice hurdle success at Limerick last time. His team is further strengthened by the likes of Landrake, Jungle Prose, Eric Bloodaxe and Maxxum, while Willie Mullins has made two entries, Blue Sari and Belle Metal. Lucky Max was a good winner for trainer Sean Doyle at Cork earlier this month and another noteworthy County Wexford contender could be the Paul Nolan-trained HMS Seahorse. Former Cheltenham Festival winner Summerville Boy made his first start for trainer Henry de Bromhead at Punchestown on New Year's Eve and he must have his chance along with the Charles Byrnes-trained Grozni which was successful at Leicester on his most recent outing.
The final race on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival is the Grade 2 Future Stars INH Flat Race and the early entry includes the Tom Mullins-trained course winner Fascile Mode and the John Kiely-trained A Dream To Share, the only dual winner in the field. Willie Mullins has entered six previous winners with last weekend’s Fairyhouse scorer Westport Cove among them while Gordon Elliott’s team of five features the Leopardstown winner Pour Les Filles and Better Days Ahead, successful at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival at the beginning of December.
Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “We now have the early entries for all 15 races at the Dublin Racing Festival and we are delighted with how it is all shaping up.
“It is heartening to see so many horses coming back to target races at Leopardstown, with representation from those that ran at previous Dublin Racing Festivals and those which competed at our bumper Christmas Festival only last month. The handicap races are a huge draw for traditional racegoers and those that come just to meet old friends again from home and the UK, and we can be hopeful that the bumper races that round off terrific cards on both days will produce stars of the future.”
The weights for the five handicap races at the Dublin Racing Festival will be revealed at 2pm next Monday, January 23.
Click here to see the handicap and bumper entries for Leopardstown on Saturday, February 4
Click here to see the handicap and bumper entries for Leopardstown on Sunday, February 5