The Leopardstown Christmas Festival Ends On A High Note

Friday, December 29, 2017
Apples Jade Leopardstown

Apple's Jade and Davy Russell take the Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle Leopardstown 28.12.2017 Photo: Patrick McCann

The four days at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival provided a magnificent display of the quality of Irish National hunt racing.  The attendance today was 10,907, compared to 11,915 in 2016, bringing total attendees over the four days to 56,617. While the attendance was down on the 2016 level of 61,039, it was ahead of the 2015 number of 54,991.  

Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, commented: “With so many great memories, this year will go down as one of the best Leopardstown Christmas Festivals for a very long time.  This evening after racing, the audience was treated to a concert from Mundy in the Festival Marquee while there was a DJ in the Champions Bar allowing people time to relax and recount their memories of a great week in Leopardstown. Last year we were blessed with unseasonably warm weather which helped to swell the social audience, unfortunately the weather Gods were less kind to us this year but that didn’t interfere with the enjoyment!

We would also like to thank our great customers, sponsors and partners for their continued support. We have plenty to look forward to in the New Year with the Dublin Racing Festival on the 3rd and 4th of February. This is one of the most exciting events to hit Dublin over the past few years as we host a celebration of racing, food, music, comedy and culture. 2018 is going to be another busy year at Leopardstown,"

DAY 1: 26th December
Footpad showed his sublime talent as probably the best novice chaser as he and Paul Townend took the feature race, the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Steeplechase in impressive style. The Racing Post Novice Chase has had some legendary winners such as Danoli, Moscow Flyer, Sizing Europe, Douvan & Min. In the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, trainer Gavin’ Cromwell’s Espoir D’Allen continued his winning run with jockey Mark Walsh. Earlier in the day, there was bittersweet jubilant scenes as the 50/1 shot, Ellie Mac won the Horse And Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle in the name of the Niccolai Schuster Horse Racing Club, who was died tragically in the Berkeley Balcony Collapse in 2015. It was great to see so many of Niccolai’s friends there to celebrate this great success and his memory.  

DAY 2: 27th December
Paddy Power Chase Day was a day of high drama and intrigue as the feature races were filled with breathtaking twists and turns. The Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Steeplechase witnessed a dramatic battle between Willie Mullin’s Min and British raider Nicky Richard's Simply Ned. A Stewards Inquiry resulted in Min being demoted to second place and 10-year old Simply Ned taking his very first Grade 1 success. The most valuable race of the festival, the €200,000 Paddy Power Handicap Steeplechase attracted a full field of 28 runners – and it was Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly (14-1) who won comfortably as Gordon Elliott's Ucello Conti came second and favourite Squouateur in third place.  This year's Paddy Power Future Champions Novices Hurdle provided a gripping roller coaster ride for racing fans, when favourite Mengli Khan hit the rails before the second last, leaving Real Steel,Sharjah and Whiskey Sour to battle it out in what looked like a 1-2-3 for trainer Willie Mullins. However, both Real Steel and Sharjah, then came down in the final flight, leaving David Mullins on Whiskey Sour to take the Grade 1 Novice hurdle for Willie Mullins.

DAY 3: 28th December
The Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle was won by Apple's Jade with jockey Davy Russell for trainer Gordon Elliott. The courageous filly had to dig deep to hold onto victory as Jessica Harrington's Supasundae and Robbie Power ran a wonderful race to finish second. 12 runners lined up with 24 Grade 1 wins between them for the €150,000 Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Steeplechase (previously Lexus Chase) which resulted in a 1-2-3 for owners Gigginstown House Stud as Road to Respect took first prize followed by Balko Des Flos and Outlander.  The Third Day of the Festival is official Ladies Day and the CLIFF Style Awards were open to both Ladies and Gents with a total prize fund value of over €10,000. The Cliff Style Award to Best Dressed Lady went to Sinead Leonard from Beaumount in Dublin and to Best Dressed Male Neil Moody. The two winners will enjoy stays at all three CLIFF 5-star properties in Ireland including The Cliffhouse Hotel, CLIFF Townhouse and CLIFF at Lyons.
DAY 4: 29th December 
The Ryanair Hurdle provided plenty of drama as favourite Faugheen led from the front, but looked in trouble halfway and was pulled up before the home straight as Cilaos Emery took advantage to take the lead, but Davy Russell and Mick Jazz began to challenge on the run-in and powered home to take the Grade 1 €100,000 contest.  It was double Grade 1 wins for Gordon Elliott as Shattered Love also won the other Grade 1 feature, the Neville Hotels Steeplechase - a race that was upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2003 due to the quality of previous winners including dual Irish Gold Cup winner, Carlingford Lough and Our Duke, who went on to win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

With so many great memories, this year will go down as one of the best Leopardstown Christmas Festivals for a very long time.