Saturday 5th February 2022
Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)
A warm welcome to my preview for this year’s Dublin Racing Festival which takes place at Leopardstown on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. The meeting is packed full of top-class graded races where some of the biggest stars in the racing world will set to do battle and I’ll be sharing my opinions on said action…
It’s been a slightly slow start to February in regards to winners on the tipping front, but hopefully a few of the horses I fancy in these blogs can do this business over the weekend.
As ever though, enjoy!
The first race of the showpiece meeting at Leopardstown comes at 1:05 and is a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle over two miles and six furlongs. The one I like here is Minella Crooner at 4/1 for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. He’s won three out of his four starts under rules, and opened his account over hurdles in impressive style last time with a twelve length success. When he was beaten the time previously it was behind the smart Journey With Me in second, however, he was in-front of Kilcruit who’s since come out and won by a distance. He’ll need to step up again if he is to lower the colours of stablemate Hollow Games but I think he’s potentially very smart himself.
We move on to the 1:35 next which is more Grade 1 action, this time in the form of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. I’m siding with Vauban here for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who’s currently a best price of 5/2 having slightly eased in the market. He’s only had one run to date where he finished second behind Pied Piper, who has since bolted up in the Triumph Trial at Cheltenham last weekend. Had the Mullins charge not made a blunder at the final flight it’s extremely likely he’d have won the race, and he nearly rallied to do so anyway. I think he could well be another top recruit for the champion trainer and the Ricci’s, he will need to be though if he’s to get the better of the current favourite and unbeaten Fil Dor.
Next up is the 2:10 which is the Grade 1 Irish Arkle that’s contested over two miles and a furlong. I’ve once again sided with the Closutton team here and gone with Blue Lord at 15/8 for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. He’ll have to post his best effort to date if he is to win here, as he has to give weight away to the talented mare Riviere D’etel, which is no easy task as Ferny Hollow found out. I do think the Mullins eight-year-old will be up to the challenge though as he’s already proved that he’s a very smart prospect himself. Connections won this race with Footpad back in 2018 and went on to win the Arkle at Cheltenham, and I think this lad could follow suit.
We move into handicap company now as the 2:45 is a Grade B Handicap Hurdle over three miles. A typically extremely competitive affair I’ve taken a chance on Enjoy D’allen here at 10/1 for Ciaran Murphy and Conor Orr. He reverts back to the smaller obstacles for this assignment having largely been seen over fences lately, most notably though, he won off an 11 pound higher marker over fences last year, which would suggest he has every chance of playing a part off what he’ll be running off in this assignment.
It’s the big one at 3:15 which is of course the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup over three miles and half of a furlong. In this year’s renewal of the race I’m siding with an old friend, well he’s not that old and he’s not really a friend either considering how many times he’s let me down. But if you haven’t guessed already, this is Asterion Forlonge for Willie Mullins and Bryan Cooper. Currently trading at a best price of 4/1, he was last seen when falling at the last when picking up some momentum in the King George at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. It remains to be seen how close he would’ve got to Tornado Flyer that day, but before his fall he was running his best race to date. I still have faith in him winning a big Grade 1 and if getting a clear round here, this might just be his day.
The penultimate race of the day comes up at 3:50 which is a Grade B Handicap Chase over two miles and a furlong. I think this can go to Mt Leinster at 2/1 for that man again Willie Mullins, with Paul Townend in the saddle this time. A lot like my pick in the previous race, his jumping can leave a bit to be desired at times, to say the least, however, on his most recent outing he showed that he was making progress and ran a solid race in third behind a smart stablemate. I think he could have a class edge on these and if he gets his jumping right he could prove tough to beat.
Concluding the day is the 4:25 which is the Grade 2 Future Stars National Hunt Flat Race over two miles. I feel like I’m becoming repetitive, but I think this is more of the same as I see this also going to Willie Mullins this time with Facile Vega at 4/5 who’s the mount of son Patrick. He was very impressive when winning on debut last time and the horse he beat has come out and won since to give the form a nice boost. The yard has farmed these races over the years and this son of the Mighty Quevega has every chance of giving them yet more success.