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Dublin Racing Festival Preview

Hi all,

Inside today’s main piece I begin my look ahead to the weekend’s big race action

What a fantastic weekend of racing both sides of the Irish Sea. At Leopardstown it’s the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday & Sunday.  

This side of the water there’s Grade 1 action at Sandown with the Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (2.20) the highlight of a seven race card.  At Wetherby the headline race is Grade 2 William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase (2:40). Up at Musselburgh it’s Scottish Cheltenham Trials Weekend with the bet365 Edinburgh National (3.13) the feature race.

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The ITV Racing are covering the best of the action from Sandown, Musselburgh and Wetherby on eight race programme on Saturday. ITV4 are also covering four races from Musselburgh on Sunday and they will be adding some races from the Dublin Racing Festival.

Dublin Racing Festival

Results from Cheltenham Trials Day didn’t make things clearer for punters as far as the Grade 1’s Cheltenham Festival are concerned. Hopefully results from the Dublin Racing Festival will help to do so.

Since 2018 horses 27 Cheltenham Festival winners ran at the Dublin Racing Festival with five winners coming out of last year’s meeting.

Looking at those results there should be plenty of clues around for next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

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There are fifteen races at the Dublin Racing Festival Weekend, seven on Saturday and eight on Sunday. With no less than eight of them of them are Grade 1 contests.

Of those 44 Grade 1 contests at the meeting Willie Mullins has saddled the winner of 20 of them. Mind you it shows the dominance of the trainer that he’s had 30% of the total runners in those races. You wouldn’t have made any backing all his runners indeed would have lost £61.22 to a £1 level stake.

How to profit from Willie Mullins at the Dublin Racing Festival?

There’s a fairly simple way and its to back his clear favourites that won or finished runner-up on their last start.

It won’t make you rich, but it should provide you with winners as it has done at each of the Dublin Racing Festival’s since 2018.

Gordon Elliott’s Grade 1 runners at the meeting don’t offer punters any value as exemplified by his Actual over Expected (A/E) stat.

The most profitable trainer has been Joseph O’Brien. All five of his winnersran at Leopardstownlast time out – 5 winners from 16 runners 31% +61.73 8 placed 50% (+80.66).  That’s something I will be keeping an eye over the weekend.

In addition to the eight Grade 1 races there are also five likely big field handicaps for punters to get stuck into over the two days.  

Given the quality of racing on offer at Leopardstown not surprisingly the bookies have started to price up most of the races.  I was going to have a look at couple of races today. However, I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to look at any race in detail yet.

Leopardstown Saturday

Regular readers of the column will no doubt be aware of my views on watering tracks. I don’t like it on the flat in the summer. However, I don’t have a problem with it during the winter months.  We are in the midst of a dry and fairly mild spell of weather which looks here to stay for the next week.

Leopardstown has started to water to maintain the ground which is currently soft on the hurdles track and yielding, good to yielding on the chase course.

Given the weather forecast it’s a wise move. The meeting has been bedevilled in the past by quick ground, particularly on the chase track, which has led to plenty of non-runners.

It sounds crazy that there having to water in the middle of winter, but Leopardstown dries quickly. If they didn’t water this year, there would be some very small fields. So, it’s the right decision. You just wish they didn’t need to.

Triumph Hurdle ante post favourite Lossiemouth seems likely to take her place in the Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.55)

Willie Mullins also dominates the ante post betting for the Irish Arkle (2.30) with Dysart Dynamo heading the betting, but the trainer also has the next two in the betting in Appreciate It & El Fabiolo.

It’s tricky puzzle trying to work out which Mullins will run never mind which races they will run at Cheltenham. Fingers crossed my Turners Novices’ Chase ante post pick Appreciate It will swerve Saturday’s race.

If the ground continues to dry out Banbridge could run well. He didn’t like the soft ground in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse last time but he’s a better horse on a sounder surface and was impressive when beating Tommy’s Oscar at Cheltenham in November.

Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3m)

The race of Day 1 of the Dublin Racing Festival is the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. Eleven were left in the race at Monday’s confirmation stage but you would expect the race to cut up at final declarations.

It will be a brave punter who opposes hot favourite Galopin Des Champs and I certainly aren’t in a hurry to do so. He was mighty impressive when slamming Fakir D'oudairies in the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown on his seasonal return.  

I haven’t really looked at the trends but 7-year-old’s who won last time have form figures of 211 which is a decent pointer to Galopin Des Champs as if he needed anymore.

Conflated was a surprise 18/1, not to me I tipped him up at 50/1 to small stakes, winner of last year’s race. He won the Grade 1 Savills Chase over C&D last time.

The 8/1 available with Paddy Power looks good each way value but he’s by no means a certain runner. A couple of weeks ago connections seemed to be suggesting that 9-year-old will go straight to Cheltenham.

Leopardstown Sunday
Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle

The feature race on Sunday’s card see’s a clash between State Man and Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle (3:10).

Nine were left in the race on Monday and I can see this race cutting up before Sunday. Honeysuckle bids for a fourth win the race but you must wonder if she’s the same mare. She would have to be at her best to beat State Man.

Ladbrokes are a tempting 5/4 about State Man’s chance which looks good value to me.  And I suspect he will be in plenty of punters multiples.

The other Grade 1’s on the card

Mighty Potter 2-2 over fences will be tough to beat in the 2m 5f Ladbrokes Novice Chase (1:40). Meanwhile Champion Chase hopeful Blue Lord will be short odds in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase (2.10).

The Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle (3.40) could see a fascinating clash between Facile Vega, 2-2 over hurdles and former high class flat performer High Definition who made a winning hurdle debut over C&D over Christmas. Trained by Joseph O’Brien he will need to have improved his jumping, but he’s got plenty of flat class.

Facile Vega needs no introduction, and the Supreme favourite will be tough to beat. Trainer Willie Mullins has seven other entries in the race.

The most interesting is Dark Raven. Unbeaten on both bumper starts, he returned from a 631-day absence to win on hurdle debut over C&D in December. Hard to see him beating the favourite but he looks a good prospect in and could be a Ballymore contender.

Wednesday racing

High class hurdler Thomas Darby is a late starter to fences. The 10-year-old is set to make his chase debut in the Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at Ayr (1:50).

He faces a couple of more experienced rivals in Gold Cup Bailly and Famous Bridge. The first named made it 3-3 since going chasing when winning over C&D last month. He’s just 4lb higher here and looks capable of better over the larger obstacles. I doubt you’ll be able to get Evens about the 7-year-old but if you did, he would be worth backing.  

Exeter and Leicester complete Wednesday’s jumps action and there are all-weather cards at Dundalk this afternoon and Kempton this evening.

Here are few pointers for Wednesday.


2:35 – Cuthbert Dibble has run with enough promise on his two starts over hurdles, both at Leicester and he’s been shaping like a step up to 2m 4f will really suit the 5-year-old.

3:10 – Previous C&D winner Jacamar ran better when a 15 length 6th of 16 at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Now 1lb below his last winning mark, going right handed is a positive, as is flatter track and I can see him going close here.


Besides Gold Cup Bailly, Donna’s Double looks interesting in the 2m 5 ½ f handicap chase (3:00). The 7-year-old got off the mark on his second start over fences when beating five rivals here over a furlong shorter last month. A 4lb rise in the weights looks more than workable given he’s unexposed over fences. It was heavy last time but he won on good over hurdles 12 months ago.

Top-weight Uncle Alastair is interesting in the first time cheekpieces. Especially with trainer Nicky Richards being 6-25( 24%) with his runners racing in the first time cheekpieces since 2018.


7:00 – Positive was back to winning ways for the first time since winning a Sandown Group 3 as juvenile when beating four rivals in a Wolverhampton handicap 36-days ago. Just 2lb higher here and has a good draw in stall 3.

Wednesday selection:

French Paradoxe got me back among the winners on Tuesday. I was little bit surprised that he went off as big as 3/1. He ultimately ran out a comfortable winner albeit Castle Rushen unseated his jockey four out and Old Painless didn’t run to his best form in fifth. Latter had a hard race at Kelso on heavy ground last time and might still have been feeling its effects.

On to Wednesday’s selection. I’m sweet on Gold Cup Bailly at Ayr but he’s likely to be odds on. I’m expecting a better show from Jacamar at Leicester. At the same track. Cuthbert Dibble looks to be crying out for the step up to 2m 4f.  Trainer Clive Cox is 3-9 in the past 14-days. And his runner Positive could follow up his recent Wolverhampton success at Kempton this evening.


7:00 – Positive – 3/1 @ Bet365.

Good luck with your Wednesday bets.


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