Day 1 of the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival saw 12,544 patrons through the turnstiles at Leopardstown to witness four Grade 1 races on a seven-race card.
Despite some excellent performances from the likes of Commander Of Fleet, Min and Le Richebourg, as well as a valiant effort by the former champion hurdler at Cheltenham, 11-year-old Jeski, when second in the Ladbrokes Hurdle, the undoubted star of the day was Gordon Elliott’s super mare Apple’s Jade.
The Cullentra trainer and jockey Jack Kennedy got the ball rolling on their Grade 1 double when taking the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘€50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle with Commander Of Fleet (13/2), a half-length winner over the Mark Walsh-ridden Rhinestone (10/1), with a further six lengths back to Gallant John Joe (33/1) in third.
Apple’s Jade (8/11f) then staked her claims for any race she will run in at the Cheltenham Festival when showing no mercy to her rivals in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle, running out a highly impressive 16 length winner over last year’s winner Supasundae (4/1).
Elliott then went on to complete an opening day treble when taking the Grade 2 Matheson Handicap Chase for the Chevely Park Stud when JJ Codd rode Envoi Allen (4/6f) to victory over the Joseph O’Brien pair Meticulous (20/1) and Embittered (10/1).
Irish Champion National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins saw his charge Min (4/9f) effortlessly take the Grade One Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, a race in which Henry de Bromhead’s former Queen Mother Champion chaser, Special Tiara, suffered a fatal injury.
The Ruby Walsh-ridden winner easily overtook Saint Calvados (4/1), the eventual third in the home straight, before Ordinary World (12/1) ran on to claim the runner-up spot, six lengths behind the victor.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Le Richebourg (11/10f), a winner of The Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, was a seven-length winner of the fourth Grade 1 on the card, the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase, beating Us And Them (11/1) and Mengli Khan (5/1) into second and third respectively.
Jockey Mark Walsh and owner JP McManus were completing a double following the earlier success of the Charles Byrnes-trained Off You Go (8/1) in the Ladbrokes Hurdle, who led home a McManus clean sweep with Jezki second (16/1) and Ivanovich Gorbatov (16/1) in third.
The final race on the card, the Goffs Handicap Steeplechase, went the way of Paul Nolan’s Quamino (14/1), with Bryan Cooper in the saddle.
Day 2 of the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival begins at 12.40pm on Sunday with the Unibet Irish Gold Cup the feature of an 8-race card which will again feature 4 Grade 1s.