A wonderful weekend of racing with the two-day Dublin Racing Festival the highlight from Leopardstown. The ground was given as yielding to soft at noon yesterday and in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase over the minimum trip of 2 miles I hope to see Chacun Pour Soi (1.25) leave the form of his seasonal reappearance behind when he was beaten over 3L by A Plus Tard here over Christmas.
A number of the Willie Mullins stars have improved for their seasonal reappearance and if the selection returned to the form of his 4L beating of Champion Chase favourite Defi Du Seuil back in the spring, then he would take all the beating. Paul Townend takes the mount on the eight-year-old who is 7/4 with BetVictor. Stablemate Min has been the one for money in recent days and Robbie Power takes over on the John Durkan winner. I think Min may be bester served over an additional half-mile, However, although it is interesting to see owner Rich Ricci lets two of his stars take each other on.
I hope to see Mark Walsh ride Fakir D’oudairies (2.00) more prominently than was the case here on Boxing Day when he allowed the excellent Rachel Blackmore too much rope on the sound jumping Notebook. The selection is 2lbs worse off this afternoon, but I was very impressed with the selection when scoring at Navan on his chase debut when he had Melon – who reopposes today – 3L away in second. Joseph O’Brien’s five-year-old is 9/4 at BetVictor with Notebook heading the market at 9/4.
It could be a red-letter day for Rachel Blackmore who has any number of good chances including the brilliant unbeaten mare Honeysuckle (3.10) who reverts to the minimum trip in the Irish Champion Hurdle. Henry De Bromhead’s mare is six out of six over timber although all her winning has been done on right-handed tracks. She goes left-handed this afternoon, but that should not be an inconvenience given she won her sole point going anti-clockwise. She receives 7lbs from the geldings and this will decide whether she is a realistic Champion Hurdle contender or just an outstanding mare.
Kim Bailey had a welcome winner at Wincanton earlier in the week and his First Flow (1.15) reverts to the minimum trip having been no match for the progressive Espoir De Guye over 2m 3f at Ascot last time. The selection was very well backed on that occasion and the eight-year-old can race from the same mark today. Joke Dancer failed to give his running last time at Haydock but the switch to a right-hand track should see him in a better light.
I’m not convinced the mare Laurina is the most natural jumper of a fence despite beating Minella Indo on her debut and I think Good Boy Bobby (2.25) will appreciate today’s track having jumped out to his right at times at Cheltenham last time. The selection is 7/2 with BetVictor and gets the vote.
David Pipe has his stable in good form and Remastered (3.00) has had his wind tweaked since finishing second to subsequent Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner at Chepstow last time. That was a welcome return to form for the seven-year-old who gets the each way vote – 14/1 – with BetVictor who are betting each way five places.
I’m looking forward to seeing the return under rules of Hazel Hill (3.58 Wetherby) who won the Foxhunters Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year and is taken to give 4lbs to recent Warwick winner Minella Rocco. And race the race is due to start at 3.58!