Our regular and popular racing pundit Alan Marron is back again, this time to preview Saturday’s fantastic card at Leopardstown, day one of the valuable Dublin Racing Festival, which will provide two of the best days of racing you are likely to see.
DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL DAY 1 SATURDAY FEB 1ST 2020
12.50 NATHANIEL LACY & PTNRS SOLICITORS “50,000 CHELTENHAM BONUS FOR STABLE STAFF” NOVICE HURDLE (GRADE 1) (5yo+) Winner €88,500 8 runners 2m6f Yielding To Soft RTE2
This is a very good renewal of this race and one of the most interesting runners for me is LONGHOUSE POET for trainer Martin Brassil with the excellent Jamie Codd in the saddle. This horse is one that followers of my previews may remember well. He was successful for us when he won his bumper at the Punchestown Festival back in May. In terms of form he has a little bit to find with some of the principals here but the step up to 2m 6f may be more to his liking.
He was second to Elixir D’Ainay, who reopposes here, in a maiden hurdle at Naas on the 9th November 2019 but it looked to me that he would soon get his act together. He did that next time out when he won at Navan beating Column Of Fire very nicely indeed. He was a creditable third last time out behind Envoi Allen and that looks a very strong piece of form. Elixir D’Ainay finished second that day but this time around the step up in trip can make a big difference.
Looks to be solid each way value here.
Don’t forget that In our SHOPS and ONLINE, we will be BOSTING THE PRICE of the FAVOURITE in EVERY RACE at the DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL…
1.25 DUBLIN CHASE (GRADE 1) (5yo+) Winner €88,500 8 runners 2m1f Yielding To Soft RTE2
Chacun Pour Soi was electric on his debut for Willie Mullins and went on to be very impressive at the Punchestown Festival but somewhat blotted his copybook when a lacklustre second behind A Plus Tard at Leopardstown over Christmas. That has just put the doubt in my mind: is he as good as we think he is? If he is, then he should win here, but at the forecast odds he doesn’t look great value.
Willie Mullins has plenty of ammunition in this race and one of the stablemates looks to be the value for me. CILAOS EMERY has really impressed me with both of his wins over larger obstacles. He won the Grade Three Poplar Square Novice Chase at Naas in nice fashion when he beat Ornua by 9 ½ lengths easily.
Many people may have thought that was good, but what was even better is that he improved off the back of that and beat Ballyoisin at Cork in the Hilly Way Chase. This is another step up in grade but I think he will be underestimated by many of the layers. His hurdle form was very strong – he finished fifth in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind the enigmatic Labaik before beating Melon in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown that season.
I can see him going very close here and may upset the big guns.
2.00 ERSG ARKLE NOVICE CHASE (GRADE 1) (5yo+) Winner €88,500 7 runners 2m1f Yielding To Soft RTE2
This is one of the races of the week for me and Patrick Mullins was very bullish about CASH BACK following his win at Naas under Danny Mullins. Patrick was of the opinion that the ground was on the nice side that day, and if you watch Cash Back after the winning line, it took Danny a little while to pull him up.
This horse likes to bowl along in front and reminds me very much of a youthful Un De Sceaux. He won by 12 lengths that day, beating Zero Ten and that, for me, was very impressive.
The pace angle of this race suggests to me that he may just get his own way in front and could be very hard to peg back if he gets into a rhythm.
In terms of hurdle form he has a bit to find with the principals but I think he could be a decent one and would suggest taking the ante-post Arkle price for the Cheltenham Festival as he could be a lot shorter after this weekend.
2.35 MATHESON HANDICAP CHASE (GRADE B) (5yo+ 0-150) Winner €59,000 16 runners 2m1f Yielding To Soft RTE2
DEBUCHET is somewhat of an enigmatic individual but looks very nicely weighted here and could give a very prominent showing.
His three runs this season have been very solid, where he beat An Fraoch Mor by four lengths on his debut over larger obstacles. He then went to Ascot and ran very well to be second behind Greaneteen, trained by Gary Moore. He was very flat at Cork last time out when he was well beaten but may have just got bogged down in the ground.
On his hurdles form he will go very close here and looks very nicely handicapped.
NB >> WE ARE PAYING EACH-WAY 1/5 THE ODDS ON THE FOLLOWING RACES AT THE DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL…
3.10 2M PCI IRISH CHAMPION HURDLE (GRADE 1) (4YO+)
The comments that Willie Mullins made about SHARJAH after his win in the Grade One Matheson Hurdle over Christmas suggests to me that he was pleasantly surprised about how well he won and also how good the time was for January.
The last time a quicker time was posted on yielding ground was when Hurricane Fly was successful in the race back in 2015. Patrick Mullins gets on really well with this horse and he quickened up nicely to beat Petit Mouchoir last time out. Honeysuckle is an obvious danger with the weight allowance but I am happy to take her on.
Sharjah was running a very good race in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last season when he was brought down at the third when Buveir D’Air came to grief.
This race will likely be run to suit with plenty of pace and Sharjah can travel away and come through with a winning run late on.
3.45 (EXTENDED HANDICAP HURDLE) (GRADE B) (4yo+ 0-150) Winner €88,500 23 runners 2m Yielding To Soft RTE2
This is somewhat of a speculative selection but EGLANTINE DE SEUIL could be a solid each-way selection after a couple of creditable runs behind Stormy Ireland. She finished further behind her last time out than she did the time before and that was quite disappointing, to say the least.
She sprang a big surprise when successful in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season at 50/1 under Noel Fehily. This is her handicap debut and she may just get into this race under the radar. She has some very solid form behind the likes of Honeysuckle and Reserve Tank and that would make her a prime contender here. Mikey Fogarty is on board tomorrow and he should get a very good spin.
She looks solid each-way value here and could go very well.
4.20 GOFFS FUTURE STARS (C & G) I.N.H. FLAT RACE (GRADE 2) (4-7yo) Winner €59,000 8 runners 2m Yielding To Soft RTV
The drop in trip could be the undoing of Appreciate It here and therefore ERIC BLOODAXE looks a very solid selection to increase his growing reputation. He really impressed me last time out at Leopardstown where he travelled and quickened away like a very smart horse. If he has improved off the back of that he should put them all to the sword (or axe!).
It looks a trappy enough contes,t but no doubt Gigginstown will be looking to the Cheltenham Festival should he be successful here.
He is currently second-favourite for the Champion Bumper but he will be a lot shorter in that market if he can come home in front this weekend.