We move to the final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and it has been a feast of fantastic racing. Melon ran a belter for the preview yesterday finishing third at 25/1 in the Savills Chase while The Big Getaway was impressive in the Beginners Chase. A very competitive card today but hopefully we can land a winner or two.
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12.05 ADARE MANOR OPPORTUNITY HANDICAP CHASE 2M 5F
A very competitive start to the final day of the Christmas Festival and my speculative selection will be FIVEAFTERMIDNIGHT who finished second in this race last year off a two pound lower mark.
She disputed the lead into the straight and only got picked up close home. While she has been in and out of form this season connections may have had an eye on this pot for a while.
Her first run this season was quite a good one when she finished fourth in a handicap hurdle in Limerick before failing to back that run up at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival next time out.
She looks overpriced and with proven course form I would suggest a small each way play at a big price.
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12.40 PIGSBACK.COM MAIDEN HURDLE 2M 4F
RISK FACTOR is one of the most interesting runners in terms of breeding as he is out of Duke Of Mamalade and Refinement. Duke Of Marmalade was very decent on the flat for Aidan O’Brien while Refinement was third to Nicanor in a Royal & Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle.
Risk Factor has some very strong form and if he could improve his jumping I think we will see a much better run this time around.
He was very impressive at this meeting last season winning a bumper and had Ramillies well behind. Ramillies came out and absolutely bolted up in the bumper here yesterday. He then went on to be well beaten behind Appreciate It in a bumper but that horse looks special and heads the market for the Supreme Novice Hurdle this season.
His hurdling form is mixed, he unseated at Galway when fading and then finished third at Navan when staying on well.
The step up in trip will surely suit and he will be very hard to keep out of the frame.
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1.15 ADVENT INSURANCE IRISH EBF MARES HURDLE (GRADE 3) 2M 4F
Being the only course winner in the field BLACK TEARS has a very strong chance of adding to her win at the Dublin Racing Festival when she stayed on strongly under Davy Russell.
She had Concertista in behind on that occasion but that form will be tested here again. Black Tears went to Cheltenham and ran an absolute cracker finishing second in the Coral Cup behind the Nicky Henderson trained Dame De Compagnie.
On her first run this season she was third behind Buildmeupbuttercup but she looked to lack fitness and should improve off the back of that run. While Concertista is the likely market leader I could see Black Tears giving her plenty to think about.
Should go close.
1.50 NEVILLE HOTELS NOVICE CHASE (GRADE 1) 3M
I was very impressed with the manner in which EUROBOT won his beginner chase last time out at Thurles and if he can improve off the back of that he could be the one to give likely favourite Monkfish the most to think about.
He travelled well throughout on his first run for nearly a year and jumped well and then was left in the lead from two out when Lord Royal came to grief and he went on to win by an ever widening eighteen lengths.
Sean Flanagan was of the opinion that the softer the ground the better for this horse and the further he goes the better he will be. Thurles has a couple of tricky fences in the down the hill into the straight and he was very professional.
He could go close here at a decent price.
2.25 MATHESON HURDLE (GRADE 1) 2M
This race is an absolute cracking renewal but it is simply all about ABACADABRAS for me. His jumping was very slick last time out and while he got a very good tactical ride from Jack Kennedy I think there was plenty more in the tank and he idled when he hit the front.
His form from last season has stacked up well considering he was second to Shiskin in the Supreme Novice Hurdle and Shiskin has taken the two mile novice chasing division apart this season and looks the one to beat in the Arkle.
Abacadabras won at this meeting last season winning the Future Champions Novice Hurdle Grade One in very impressive fashion.
I still think there is improvement to come and he will take the world of beating.
3.00 IRISH STALLION FARMS EBF NOVICE HANDICAP HURDLE 2M 4F
One of the more interesting contenders in this race is the Francis Flood trained MILLEN TO ONE. While this horse is still a maiden he has been very consistent including finishing second in this race last season.
While he is seven pound higher this time around he has been much more consistent this season and bar an unseat at the last behind Dreal Deal at Punchestown he has failed to be out of the first five in any of his runs in 2020. He was beaten six and a half lengths at Thurles behind Jackson Gold but the weights now favour Millen To One and I would expect him to get much closer.
He deserves to get his head in front and with Jack Kennedy booked connections look very hopeful.
Should be very hard to keep out of the frame here.
3.35 IRISH INJURED JOCKEYS INH FLAT RACE 2M
MARE QUIMBY will receive a stone in weight from likely favourite Hollow Games and that might just be enough to see her go close if she can prove that her Navan flop was just a poor day at the office.
The time before at Punchestown she really impressed me with the manner of victory as she took a keen hold and travelled supremely well for Finian Maguire before staying on strongly in the style of a very promising filly.
Her run at Navan where she was sent off favourite for a listed bumper was simply too bad to be true. She never travelled and watching the race back, Finny was at her most of the way to keep her concentrated.
If she can come back to anything like her Punchestown form then she must go close here.