Faugheen, Melon and Defi Du Seuil head the final field of eight runners for the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this Saturday, 3rd February.
Defi Du Seuil, trained in Britain by Philip Hobbs, will be ridden by British Champion jockey Richard Johnson who is bidding for his first Grade 1 success at Leopardstown since his victory on Florida Pearl in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup in 2004.
In addition to Faugheen and Melon, Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins will run Bapaume, bringing to three the Closutton-trained horses in the field of eight runners. Mick Jazz, winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, carries the hopes of Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, while Jessica Harrington is doubly represented by Supasundae, the mount of Robbie Power, and the veteran Jezki, with Mark Walsh on board. Last year’s winning trainer Henry De Bromhead’s Identity Thief brings the total number of the runners to eight in the opening day feature Grade 1 event.
Seven runners will go to post for the Grade 2 Coral Dublin Chase and again the big three here have all stood their ground. Min and Yorkhill give Willie Mullins the strongest hand with the Nicky Richards-trained Simply Ned providing the chief opposition.
Willie Mullins’ Footpad and the Henry De Bromhead-trained Petit Mouchoir – high-class hurdlers and now both unbeaten over fences – are among the five runners for the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase.
The first of seven Grade 1 races over the weekend is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle and the final line-up of seven is headed by the Gordon Elliott-trained Dortmund Park, Willie Mullins’ Fabulous Saga and Henry De Bromhead’s Dicey O’Reilly.
Commenting on the quality of the Day 1 racecard at the Dublin Racing Festival, Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said:
“It’s an incredible opening day to the first Dublin Racing Festival and all the stars we hoped to see will be at Leopardstown on Saturday. Everything looks set fair and while a little rain is forecast for early on Saturday morning, the weekend’s weather is looking very favourable meaning perfect conditions for everyone.”