We had a very disappointing start to the Leopardstown Christmas Festival as Zanahiyr was the only one that managed to get his head in front. A number of high profile names blotted their copybook but I am hoping we will have much better luck on Day Two.
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12.05 3YR OLD MAIDEN HURDLE 2M
Following a disappointing Day One of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival for trainer Willie Mullins and Paul Townend they will be hoping DARK VOYAGER can get them back in the winners enclosure.
This horse finished second to dual graded winner Zanahiyr at Ballinrobe back in October before being well beaten behind Druids Altar next time out. I think he is worth another chance here and his ability to handle softer conditions should be taken into account. Zanahiyr has improved the form significantly so if Willie Mullins can get Dark Voyager back to some of the form we seen on the flat then he should go very close.
Should be hard to keep out of the frame.
12.35 BEGINNERS CHASE 2M 1F
It could be a quick double for team Closutton with the 2019 Supreme Novice Hurdle winner KLASSICAL DREAM making his debut over fences.
We haven’t seen him since this meeting last year but if he retains any of his hurdling ability he should be much too good for this field. His rating of 160 over hurdles leaves him well in front on the ratings in this race and the quoted evens looks a standout if he comes back to form.
He was formerly trained in France and most of the time they are schooled over fences from a young age.
I would think Willie Mullins will have him well schooled also and he should take plenty of beating with a clear round.
1.10 CHASE (GRADE ONE) 2M 1F
CHACUN POUR SOI came into this race last season without a run and got picked up by A Plus Tard up the home straight when it looked like he was short of match practice.
This time around Willie Mullins hasn’t taken the same chance as we only seen him three weeks ago when he was successful in the Hilly Way chase in Cork. This horse has been phenomenal over fences in the last two seasons and stepped up massively from a beginners chase win to leave Defi De Seuil toiling in his wake at Punchestown in 2019.
He ground out a very good win at the Dublin Racing Festival when he got the better of stablemate Min and with fitness assured he should be hard to beat here.
This race should set him up perfectly for the Dublin Racing Festival and then it should be all systems go for Cheltenham.
1.45 FUTURE CHAMPIONS NOVICE HURDLE (GRADE ONE) 2M
For many of ye who follow my previews ye will be aware that I have been waxing lyrical about the Gordon Elliott trained BALLYADAM for quite a while now.
He was devastating at Down Royal when he made his hurdle debut and then he landed the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse next time out. With the likes of Cask Mate and N’Golo in behind on that occasion it was no easy assignment.
This will be his biggest test so far with the likes of Appreciate It and Thedevilscoachman in the field. If Ballyadam has aspirations of winning at Cheltenham in March then he will need to put in a very good performance here.
I think Cheveley Park have a very special young hurdler on their hands and I think he should take plenty of beating.
2.20 HANDICAP 2M
Edward Harty is no stranger to handicap success when he combines with JP Mc Manus and I am very interested in his mare at the foot of the weights SPRUCED UP.
Taking Gavin Brouders claim into account she will have 10 stone on her back and that will be no inconvenience on ground that she should handle.
She absolutely bolted up under Aine O Connor in a lady riders handicap back on New Years day last year at Fairyhouse so with that in mind she could be coming into form at this time of year. She followed that up with a very good fourth to Black Tears the Dublin Racing Festival and if she can get back to anything like that form she should go close.
I would draw a line through her run last time out at Navan as she may have needed it but she returns here off the same mark of 118 as she was when fourth to Black Tears.
She is a massive price and looks solid each way value with luck in running.
2.55 EXTENDED HANDICAP CHASE (GRADE B) 3M
Jessica Harrington has a very interesting runner in this extremely competitive handicap with DISCORDANTLY being her representative.
This horse has been in my notebook for quite a while but he looks like he is finally getting his act together over fences. He really impressed with victory at Galway under Paddy Kennedy who remains on board. That form got a nice boost when Chavi Artist who finished second came out and won next time out by four lengths.
On his next run Discordantly was seen finishing fourth behind The Jam Man in the Troytown at Navan and while he was beaten just over twenty lengths it was a very good run. Chasing was always going to be his game and if he can get back to something like his Galway form he should be in contention here.
He is prone to the odd mistake so hopefully we can get a clear round and he gives us a decent run.
3.30 INH FLAT RACE 2M 4F
BALLYCAIRN is a very interesting runner for Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd as the step up in trip could really suit him.
He was going well on his debut as they turned for home at Navan before he flattened out and the front two got away. I think with that race under his belt and this race could turn into something of a stamina laden contest then I think he is the one to pay most attention to.
He has to overturn the form with Killer Mode but I think Jamie Codd will be able to travel into the race much better this time around and hopefully he will give them plenty to think about.
Should be hard to keep out of the frame.