Last year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National winner Our Duke heads a field of 10 horses for the Unibet Irish Gold Cup, one of 4 Grade 1 events on Day 2 of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
His trainer Jessica Harrington will hope her charge can show the same form he displayed last Easter when sensationally winning the Fairyhouse event, as he suffered a back injury on his last run when finishing a disappointing seventh in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal last November.
Top owner JP McManus will be three-handed in the event with Anibale Fly, Minella Rocco and Edwulf carrying the Limerick man’s famous silks.
Willie Mullins, fresh from an opening day four-timer at Leopardstown, will saddle Djakadam, who pulled up at Christmas, and Killultagh Vic, who recently won over hurdles following a long layoff.
Alpha Des Obeaux, Outlander and Valseur Lido will carry the Giggingstown House Stud colours of Ryanair chief, Michael O’Leary, as he bids to maintain his grasp on Irish staying chases, having dominated the Leopardstown Christmas Chase at the same venue last December. Gordon Elliott’s Troytown hero Mala Beach makes up the field.
Also on Sunday’s Leopardstown card, Irish racing’s most hyped horse, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Samcro, about who Michael O’Leary said earlier this season “he’s not the second coming of Jesus Christ” in an effort to tone down the expectation, puts his unbeaten record on the line in the 11 runner Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle. The six-year-old, trained by Gordon Elliott, will face stiff competition from the Willie Mullins camp in the shape of Sharjah, Duc Des Genievres, Whiskey Sour and Real Steel, while the Mags Mullins-trained Debuchet, second in last year’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, is also in the field.
Gavin Cromwell’s JP McManus-owned Espoir D’allen puts his four run unbeaten record on the line when he faces Mr Adjudicator, who is also unbeaten, and Farclas in the five-runner Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
The other Grade 1 race of the day, the Flogas Novice Chase, will see Henry de Bromhead’s Monalee attempt to make amends for his fall at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Among his main rivals in the 11 horse field will be Snow Falcon, Tombstone, Sutton Place and Invitation Only.