Over the next couple of days, I’m going to look back at an interesting weekend of racing. Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on the best of Saturday’s action at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Dublin Racing Festival – Saturday
As expected, Willie Mullins dominated the Grade 1 contests at the Dublin Racing Festival. It was always fanciful to think he would win all eight, but he still managed to land six of them. Although on three occasions it wasn’t the stable’s number one choice that was successful.
It was a good meeting and we got plenty of Cheltenham clues. There looked to be some big crowds too which is encouraging for the sport. I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the handicaps but the Grade 1’s mostly lived up to expectations.
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We should be thankful that Leopardstown did water to maintain the ground. The field sizes hold up and there were few non-runners. On Saturday the going was described as yielding but looking at the times it was close to good. If the track hadn’t been watering the field sizes would have been much reduced.
Here are my thoughts on the four Grade 1 races on the card.
Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle (2m 6f)
The Barry Connell trained Good Land won the Grade stayers novice hurdle that opened the card. The winner was sent off the 3/1 favourite. Always well positioned Good Land took it up from long-time leader Weveallbeencaught two out. From that moment it never looked like he would be caught. Sandor Clegane gave vain pursuit, but he was headed by Absolute Notions on the run in and had to settle for third. Absolute Notions ran on well after the last to get within 1 ½ lengths of the winner but looked held.
It was a good performance from Good Land. He jumped neatly and travelled well through the race and is a 7-year-old going places. He hasn’t got an entry in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. However, he holds a Ballymore entry and given he doesn’t lack pace he looks to have a good chance in that race.
Trainer Barry Connell now has two Grade 1 winning novice hurdles who are strongly fancied for Cheltenham Festival novice hurdles.
Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Lossiemouth was the 1/3 favourite to win the second Grade 1 on the card. However, everything that could go wrong, did. She was moving well when hampered by a stablemate leaving the back straight. However, she still managed to get herself into contention coming to the last but couldn’t reel in her stablemate Gala Marceau on the run in.
Lossiemouth is 15/8 for the Triumph Hurdle. And whilst I think she’s got a great chance of reversing placings with the winner at Cheltenham. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to back her at that price.
The winner is an improving juvenile who has a good engine and produced a decent turn of foot coming to the last. There isn’t much between her and Lossiemouth. Add in Blood Destiny and one things for certain Willie Mullins has a stranglehold on the Triumph Hurdle.
Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase (2m 1f)
This year’s race was full of depth, and I doubt next month’s Arkle will be any more compettive.
Barring Jonbon all the best two mile novices chases were in the line-up. Willie Mullins saddled six of the eight runners and the trainer had the first three in the betting.
Appreciate It was sent off the 11/8 favouriteahead of stablemates Dysart Dynamo & El Fabiolo. It was the latter who laid down a marker for Cheltenham with an impressive ten length success.
Despite a mistake four out El Fabiolo took it up at the last and powered clear of Appreciate It and Dysart Dynamo on the run in.
Appreciate It got the better of Dysart Dynamo close to home but he lost second on the line to a strong finishing Banbridge.
What next for the main protagonists?
Banbridge appreciates good ground and ran an excellent trial for next months Turners Novice Chase. He didn’t have the speed to compete with best at 2m 1f but the 2m 4f of the Turners will be right up his street. He’s now a best priced 9/2 with William Hill for that Cheltenham race and if the ground is good, he’ll be tough to beat given his liking for the track.
Appreciate It was my ante post pick for the Turners at 12/1 and he’ll surely go there rather than the Arkle on the evidence of this performance. He’s a best priced 5/1 with Bet365 for that race and my ante post bet is still (just) alive after Saturday.
El Fabiolo is headed for next month’s Arkle and match up with Jonbon. There was a just a neck between the pair over hurdles at Aintree in April. And but for a mistake at the last he may well have prevailed that day.
It promises to be a fantastic Arkle if the pair bring their ‘A Games’ to the race.
El Fabiolo goes into the Arkle with the best form of the pair over fences. And whilst Jonbon should improve on his two chase performances to date he will need to. Granted El Fabiolo won’t be able to get away with the mistake he made at Cheltenham but if his jumping is more fluent, I can see him giving Jonbon a real race.
Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3m)
Galopin Des Champs took his form to a new level when landing day one feature race. Sent off the 30/100 favourite. He showed in winning on Saturday that he’s now tactically more versatile horse. He was dropped in behind the leaders and switched off nicely. Taking it up after the last he put a nice bit of distance between himself and Fury Road and Stattler on the run in. He stayed the 3m strongly and whilst it’s another 2 ½ f to travel at Cheltenham I think he’ll stay.
However, in beating the 158 rated Fury Road (third) by about nine lengths. He showed he’s probably not the superstar over fences that we thought he might be. Mind you he might not need to be to win next month.
Fury Road ran a cracker in second and it was a shame he lost second to Stattler in the final strides. He was out on his feet close to home and looks more a Ryanair type than a Gold Cup horse.
Stattler is a thorough stayer who probably needs three and half miles or more. He jumped neatly enough and rallied on the run in to grab second but lacked the gears of the winner. He’ll stay the Gold Cup distance no problem and deserves his place in the line-up.
Galopin Des Champs is a best priced 13/8 with Paddy Power for the next month’s Gold Cup. I think he’s a worthy market leader and looks more likely to win after Saturday but it’s not a one horse race.
After a couple of poor weekends, I ended this one with a good profit which always makes looking back at the weekend’s action so much sweeter.
After the weekend just gone Monday was bound to be a let down and it hasn’t failed to deliver on that score.
There are jump fixtures at Fontwell and Carlisle on Monday afternoon and the day’s sport is completed by an evening all-weather card at Wolverhampton.
3:30 – Auriferous, a winner on the flat when trained by Andrew Balding, shaped with promise on hurdles debut for Garry Moore when a 13 ½ length 4th of 14 at Huntingdon 10-days ago. He may need further over hurdles than today’s extended 2m 1 ½ f but looks capable of winning over timber.
4:30 – Tamaris ran well on his return from a 15 month absenceand on first start for Joe Tizzardwhen 9 ¾ length 4th of 13 over C&D in December. But then ran below market expectations returned to the all-weather 16-days ago. The 6-year-old probably has the ability to win a modest handicap hurdle like this, but the trainer is 0-28 in the past 14-days.
3:15 – Maid O'Malley won this mares handicap chase last year and her form figures at Carlisle are 2212. Runner-up in mares’ listed race here on seasonal return before running below form in a similar race at Doncaster last time. 11lb higher than when winning 12 months ago but can go close return to a venue that suits.
A good week for the column, three winners, a 43% win strike rate and tidy profit which is none too shabby for free tips. Solid betting opportunities look light on the ground today. Tamaris would be of interest. if his yard was in better form. Which just leaves just one pick.
3:15 – Maid O'Malley – 2/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Monday bets.