Welcome to the preview for the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. It was an outstanding day’s racing on the opening Saturday with top drawer performances from the lines of Chacun Pour Soi, Energumene, Honeysuckle and Kilcruit. Personally, I think the way Kilcruit won the Grade 2 Bumper was incredible.
I’ll be once again sharing my views on all of the races on the Sunday meeting. So as ever, enjoy!
The first race gets underway at 1:10 on Sunday is a Grade B Handicap over two miles and two furlongs. An extremely competitive affair of which I’ve had two darts in, the first of those coming in the form of Willie Mullins’ LADY BREFFNI (13/2). She was last seen winning a fairly weak maiden at extremely short odds, however, I think she arrives here on a very workable mark and is unexposed. She’ll need to improver her jumping but if she does that she’s got every chance of playing a meaningful role. The other pick is the Paul Nolan trained MRS MILNER (8/1) who’s the mount of Sean O’Keefe. Unlike the Mullins mare she’s much more battle hardened within this kind of company and finished an impressive second to On The Blind Side at Cheltenham back in November. She’s a winner over shorter distances but has been performing with credit over further recently and could go well once again here.
The first Grade 1 of the day takes place at 1:40 which is the Juvenile Hurdle over two miles. The unbeaten Quilixios sets the standard here for Gordon Elliott and looks another potential star for the yard. I’ve tried to take him on though and done that with YOUMDOR (5/2) for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, a horse with a lot of potential in his own right he fell at the last when last seen when looking in control of said contest, before that he opened his account for Closutton in impressive fashion and I’ll chance him to bounce back to that form here.
It’s more Grade 1 action next with the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle set to take place at 2:10. This is all about APPRECIATE IT (8/13) once again for Willie Mullins. He was last seen when taking the spoils in emphatic style within Grade 1 company at this track over Christmas and has since propelled to the top of Cheltenham Festival markets. If turning up in that kind of form again on this occasion his rivals will find him incredibly hard to beat. Ballyadam looks to be his main danger once again along with stablemate Blue Lord.
Moving onto the 2:40 which is another big field competitive handicap. I’ve once again had two arrows here, the first of which comes in the form of KOSHARI (10/1) for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. He made a winning return to the track last month after a long lay off and has the class to go close in a race of this nature. The other pick is UNEXPECTED DEPTH (9/1) for Oliver McKiernan and Barry Browne. This is a horse that rarely runs a bad race and proved that again with a solid third in a Pertemps Qualifer here over Christmas, that’s pretty strong form and if running to that level again he’s every chance of being involved.
The 3:10 is the Grade 1 Flogas Novices Chase over just over two miles and five furlongs. The race was famously won last year by Faugheen and I think the same connections will take the spoils again this time around with MONKFISH (4/6). He’s looked another potential superstar in the Ricci silks and looks set for another battle with old rival Latest Exhibition who he got the better of in a cracker here at Christmas. I think he’ll enhance his Cheltenham credentials here and solidify his place at the top of the market for what was once the RSA.
From one Grade 1 to another next up at 3:40 is the Irish Gold Cup over three miles. A small field for this year’s renewal of the race of which I think MINELLO INDO (13/8) will be the one to side with. He’s looked a classy recruit to fences before falling in the Savills Chase here at Christmas. If bouncing back from that here and getting a clear round I think he could well put on a bold showing. The main rivals look to be the stablemates Kemboy and Melon who ran massive races last time out.
The penultimate race of the meeting comes at 4:10 and is yet another big field handicap. I’ve once again tried my hand with two picks and the first of these is former Triumph winner FARCLAS (7/1) for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. He’s been running well on his return to the track with a couple of good efforts in decent handicaps and I’m chancing him to build on said efforts here. MINELLA TIMES (8/1) brings up my duo for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, he ran a mighty race the last day when second in the Paddy Power and another bold showing is likely with a four pound rise.
Concluding the day and the festival is another Grade 2 bumper, set to take place at 4:45. I think this can be another one for Mullins with BRANDY LOVE (5/4) who’s the mount of Patrick Mullins who steered Kilcruit to victory in the bumper on Saturday. She was very impressive on stable debut when winning by the best part of seven lengths and she could well prove another star bumper for a yard that churn out so many.