Christmas Festival Fun Edges Ever Closer

A feast of Irish jump racing lies ahead over the Christmas holidays

Will Reilly takes a look at what the racing holds in Ireland over the Christmas period

A feast of racing lies ahead at the Leopardstown and Limerick Christmas Festivals and they often provide a good distraction or antidote to the seasonal excesses.

Each of them runs from December 26th to December 29th.

Leopardstown

Day one (first race, 12:10pm) of Leopardstown features the €50,000 Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (1:10pm, 2 miles) and the €100,000 Grade 1 Racing Post Novice ‘Chase (2:20pm, 2m1f), for which impressive Punchestown winner, and Cheltenham Festival Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up, Mengli Khan, is favourite.

Day two (first race, 12:10pm), December 27th, includes a €125,000 Grade 1 chase run over 2m1f (1:15pm), in which last season’s brilliant, top novice, Footpad, will bid to make amends for his fall at Naas last time,  and the €100,000 Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle (1:50pm, 2 miles), which is full of promising novice hurdlers.

Day three (first race, 12:10pm) will feature the €100,000 Grade 1 Squared Financial Champion Hurdle (1:50pm, 3 miles), for which brilliant recent Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle winner Apple’s Jade is a warm favourite, although the legendary Faugheen is among her opponents, and the €175,000 Grade 1 Savills ‘Chase (3pm, 3 miles), in which Down Royal Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase winner, Road To Respect, last season’s Cheltenham Festival RSA Chase winner, Presenting Percy, and last season’s Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup winner, Bellshill, are all intended runners.

The fourth, and final, day, (first race, 12:10pm)  December 29th, will include two Grade 1 races – the €100,000 Neville Hotels Novice ‘Chase (1:55pm, 3 miles) and the €125,000 Ryanair Hurdle (2:30pm, 2 miles) – plus the €40,000 Grade 3 Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle (1:20pm, 2m4f).

Limerick

At Limerick, the opening day (first race, 12:20pm) will feature a €100,000 Grade 1  novice chase (2pm, 2m3f), in which Willie Mullins’ Getabird is a strong favourite (Ruby Walsh rides).

Day two (first race, 12:25pm) will feature the  €50,000 Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap ‘Chase (2:40pm, 2m3f), day three (first race, 12:30pm) the €34,000 Grade 3 Irish Independent Hurdle (2:45pm) and the final day (first race, 12:25pm) the €50,000 Grade 2 Sky Sports Launching January 1st Novice Hurdle (2pm, 3 miles).

They are festivals full of fantastic racing.

Down Royal

Just for good measure, Down Royal (first race, midday) will race on St Stephen’s Day for what will be the final meeting under the old management before a new era begins in the new year.

Wonderful time

A wonderful Christmas of racing lies in store in Ireland.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article