After what was possibly the most eventful day’s racing you’ll see in a long long time on Boxing Day we buckle down to do it all over again just a day later with the Leopardstown Festival marching on in full cry alongside Chepstow’s Welsh National card. The first bit of Grade 1 action comes in the form of the 1.15 which is the ‘Sugar Paddy’ Chase and I think this race will see FOOTPAD (11/10) return into the winners enclosure following a pretty laboured looking effort on his reappearance last time out prior to falling. His main opposition looks to be the likes of stablemate Great Field and Ballyoisin who are both serious players if turning up in form. If there was the option of three places i’d say the each way play would be Castlegrace Paddy who excelled last time with a dominant success in within a race of which Great Field came down early. However we are just limited to the two, so for me Footpad looks the one they all have to beat again.
The Grade 1 action continues within the 1.50 which is the ‘Future Champions Novice Hurdle’ race contested over two miles and it’s another Willie Mullins horse that I like the look of here and that’s SANCTA SIMONA (9/4). She’s progressed nicely this year winning both starts over hurdles culminating in a Grade 3 success the last time at Down Royal and there’s no telling the limit to her ability. Barry Geraghty is in the saddle and she looks to hold a solid chance here. This race has a real competitive feel with a whole host of dangers, the most live ones looking to be fellow JP McManus owned Triplicate for Joseph O’Brien and stablemate Aramon who’s the mount of Ruby Walsh.
Onto the 2.25 which is one of the most competitive races of the afternoon as it’s a typical sizeable field handicap which on this occasion is contested over two miles. I’d possibly brace yourself for who i’m about to take a chance on here, a horse that has failed to win since 2016 and hasn’t come close to putting in a meaningful performance for some time. That’s of course the infamous IVANOVICH GORBATOV (12/1) (E/W). In truth his last few runs have been nothing short of a disgrace and I wouldn’t at all hold it against you should you label me a disgrace for backing him on the evidence of such abysmal recent outings. But his mark is getting very, very lowly now and to be honest, if there’s any spark left in this once Triumph Hurdle winner he should be coming to somewhere near competitive off this current level.
Chepstow – (2.50) (Welsh Grand National) (3m 5f 110y)
The Welsh National kicks off at 2.50 on Thursday afternoon and this typically extremely competitive affair is no different this time around. The two current market leaders Elegant Escape and Ramses De Teillee look solid favourites and are certainly the one’s to beat. However I quite like the ever reliable VINTAGE CLOUDS (10/1) (E/W) for Sue Smith. A regularly consistent performer in large staying contests and he won well on his reappearance last time at Haydock. If his jumping holds out there’s no saying he can’t go well in this race again on the back of a fourth placed effort in it last term.