The second staging of the Dublin Racing Festival takes places at Leopardstown today (Saturday) and Sunday with the quality action packed two-day meeting boasting eight Grade 1 races.
Saturday’s feature, the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, includes the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Apple’s Jade, winner of the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle over three miles at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, among the six acceptors. She faces strong rivals in the Willie Mullins-trained Melon and last year’s winner, Supasundae, from the Jessica Harrington stable.
Thirteen horses remain in Sunday’s Unibet Irish Gold Cup with the Noel Meade-trained Road To Respect set to clash with a strong Willie Mullins contingent which includes Al Boum Photo, Bellshill and Kemboy. Henry De Bromhead has Monalee in Sunday’s feature face and also standing their ground are Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly and last year’s winner, Edwulf, from the Joseph O’Brien yard.
The first of eight Grade 1 races at the Dublin Racing Festival is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle. Gordon Elliott’s Battleoverdoyen heads the 25 entries with the six-year-old set to face the Philip Dempsey-trained Derrinross, Dunvegan from Pat Fahy’s stable and the Willie Mullins pair Relegate and Salsaretta.
Ireland’s champion National Hunt trainer holds a very strong hand in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase with both Footpad and Min entered in the newly promoted Grade 1 event. English challenger and Leopardstown course specialist Simply Ned will take his chance for Nicky Richards, with Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados also likely to travel over.
The Aidan Howard-trained Winter Escape is set to line up in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase where the Terence O’Brien-trained Articulum, Paloma Blue from Henry De Bromhead’s stable and Knocknanuss, trained in England by Gary Moore, are all possible runners. Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg remains in the race as does the Willie Mullins-trained Voix Du Reve.
Winter Escape also remains in the Flogas Novice Chase on Sunday where likely opposition would include the Warren Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi and Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work.
The first of the Grade 1 races on Sunday is the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle where Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap could renew rivalry for trainers Joseph O’Brien and Willie Mullins, while Gordon Elliott’s Chief Justice and Surin are also among the acceptors.
Three of the country’s leading jumps trainers Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry De Bromhead dominate the entries for the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle. Course and distance Grade 1 winner Aramon and Klassical Dream are among the strong team the champion trainer has entered, while Vision D’honneur and Grade 2 winner Felix Desjy are among Elliott’s entries. De Bromhead’s Dancing On My Own and Sinoria remain in the race, as does Triplicate, trained by Joseph O’Brien.