Leopardstown Christmas Festival Preview
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Leopardstown Christmas Festival Preview

It's top class jumps racing action all the way over Christmas and nowhere more so than at Leopardstown where they have four days of magical action to look forward to. It begins on Sunday and the Racing Post has a race-by-race look ahead to that St Stephen's Day card (12.00pm-3.30pm) with their preview to the big races over the following three days at the Dublin venue.


December 26th

12.00 - Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle (2m)

A theme of the maiden hurdles in Ireland over the coming days will be newcomers. Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott, to name but three, could unleash some useful sorts and Cheltenham markets for March could be shaken up.

STATE MAN was second in a Listed 3YO Hurdle at Auteuil in May 2020 and is now with Mullins. That form has got a strong look to it and, with Paul Townend on board, he's a key player. Stablemate Hercule Du Seuil in the JP McManus colours was second in one French run too and is a danger. The filly Music Of Tara is a first-timer for De Bromhead while Elliott's Hiaou didn't find as much as looked likely at Naas over further in last month's debut and could do better.

Selection: State Man

Next Best: Hiaou

12.35 - Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle (2m)

Back-to-back maidens to begin at the Foxrock venue. SIR GERHARD was given a peach of a ride by Rachael Blackmore to win the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March. Kilcruit had his revenge at Punchestown but the Cheveley Park Stud inmate should prove very hard to topple on his introduction to hurdles. His stablemate Goven, victorious on the Flat in France last year before being bought by JP McManus, is amongst the dangers at Mullins again plays a strong hand.

Selection: Sir Gerhard

Next Best: Goven

1.10 - Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m)

Gordon Elliott's FIL DOR was always doing enough to hold Lunar Power at bay last month in a Fairyhouse graded contest. The winner has a 3lb penalty to concede but is progressing and should make it 3-3 in this code now. Noel Meade's runner-up should once again make a race of it while the other Elliott runner, Britzka, had plenty to spare over Scenic Look at Fairyhouse a fortnight ago and looks up to progressing in this classier race.

Selection: Fil Dor

Next Best: Britzka

1.45 - TRI Equestrian Novice Handicap Hurdle (2m)

The first of Leopardstown's notoriously tricky handicaps and this doesn't disappoint, with a field of 28 engaged. Marvel Fan caused a 40/1 shock at Gowran Park last month over this trip, holding off the re-opposing Cullaghs Star in second. With Maxine O'Sullivan now claiming 5lb on the winner, connections will be hopeful again but the second is consistent and might avenge that result.

Trebizond is one to look out for in the Robcour colours for Henry De Bromhead and Dylan Robinson, while Mare Quimby is another with promise. ARAGON was hampered on seasonal bow at Down Royal in October and might be one to come forward for Jessica Harrington now competing in a handicap for the first time.

Selection: Aragon

Next Best: Cullaghs Star

2.20 - Racing Post Novice Chase (Grade 1, 2m)

Ferny Hollow made a winning start over fences at Punchestown this month, holding off the re-opposing Coeur Sublime by four-lengths. The 2020 Champion Bumper winner, whose one hurdles win last season resulted in handing Bob Olinger the only defeat of his career thus far, wasn't anything like perfect over the fences but still managed to win. He's going to be odds-on for further success but this is a real test.

RIVIERE D'ETEL gets plenty weight from him and Gordon Elliott's promising filly can make use of it. She is 3-3 over fences and has twice given out comprehensive beatings in graded company at Punchestown and Navan already. It's hard to know how good she can be.

Selection: Riviere D'etel

Next Best: Ferny Hollow

2.55 - 'bet Through The Free Racing Post App' Handicap Chase (2m1f)

Fan Des Blues has started to go the right way now over fences for Willie Mullins and remains on a workable mark after runner-up finishes at Tipperary and Gowran Park lately. Exit Poll was placed in a Grade 3 at Punchestown last time and has claims despite top-weight, while Golden Jewel and Grange Walk are others for the shortlist.

After starting life as a chaser with a good success at Wexford in October (2m, heavy) TAKE ALL has twice bumped into the hugely promising Riviere D'etel since. He was second to her this month at Navan and an opening handicap mark of 135 is within range for Seamus Fahey's charge.

Selection: Take All

Next Best: Fan Des Blues

3.30 - Leopardstown Flat Race (2m)

Facile Vega should be popular for the Mullins team, the Walk In The Park gelding is out of the trainer's star mare Quevega and makes solid appeal on paper. She's very much respected but maybe racecourse experience will pay dividends for COOL SURVIVOR. He was only second at odds-on in last month's bow at Punchestown but the winner may prove to be above-average. Others to note are Sizing Mauritius and Harry Des Ongrais.

Selection: Cool Survivor

Next Best: Facile Vega

December 27th

12.35 - Paddy Power Games Beginners Chase (2m1f)

Though he failed to win over hurdles last season (two runs) HAUT EN COULEURS was third in the Triumph at Cheltenham on stable bow and then placed behind Jeff Kidder at Punchestown in May. He's an exciting recruit to chasing for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

Selection: Haut En Couleurs

1.10 - Paddy's Rewards Club Chase (Grade 1, 2m1f)

Just four runners for this Grade 1 contest but they include Chacun Pour Soi and Envoi Allen. It's a little over three weeks since the former came home a tired horse in the Tingle Creek at Sandown and that's surely a worry in taking odds on. Envoi Allen was well held in the John Durkan over further and needs a response at this sharper trip (untried over fences) if he's to get his career back on track. They are the class acts but have got their issues. This trip looks short for Battleoverdoyen so maybe Sizing Pottsie can outrun his price after being third behind Energumene at Cork recently.

Selection: Chacun Pour Soi

1.45 - Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m)

Three Stripe Life and Grangee represent Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins and are leading contenders, while former also saddles Mighty Potter - third in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last month and catching the eye having run a bit freely.

LARGY DEBUT turned over Kilcruit at Cork this month on hurdles bow for Henry De Bromhead. He made all and was still 10-lengths clear at the line, with Mullins-trained runner-up in turn 24-lengths clear of the rest. It would be very dismissive to think that result was any kind of fluke and perhaps he's the one underestimated in this race according to the forecast betting.

Selection: Largy Debut

28th December

1.45 - Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

Flooring Porter led them a merry dance from the front in this race a year ago and proved it was no fluke when following up at Cheltenham in March. He was moving well on his comeback at Navan (2m4f) last month only to come down. He's a leading player. KLASSICAL DREAM defied a long absence to hose up in the Grade 1 Stayers' race at Punchestown in April and if the Mullins inmate turns up in a similar mood now, he will have excellent claims.

Selection: Klassical Dream

2.20 - Savills Chase (Grade 1, 3m)

A PLUS TARD got some help in winning this a year ago as Melon and Kemboy waged war from some way out and he flew home to pip them both. Second to stablemate Minella Indo afterward in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, he returned to action with a demolition job in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month and should prove exceedingly tough to dislodge back here.

Selection: A Plus Tard

29th December

1.45 - Neville Hotels Novice Chase (Grade 1)

Run Wild Fred could be an interesting contender here as the impressive Troytown winner bids to showcase his credentials in this company. Ontheropes was fancied for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and ran well in fourth - more is demanded. VANILLIER was in charge of the Grade 2 Florida Pearl at Punchestown last month even before the fallers and Gavin Cromwell's 6YO has scope for better.

Selection: Vanillier

2.20 - Matheson Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m)

Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins are responsible for nine of the 10 entries here, so much depends on what turns up. If TEAHUPOO is amongst them, then Elliott's impressive Navan Grade 3 scorer from last month can confirm superiority over ex-stablemate and last season's Triumph Hurdle hero, Quilixios.

Selection: Teahupo




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