Two days of quality racing gets underway Saturday at Leopardstown, with a card filled with quality and ante post Cheltenham clues all over the show. I have taken a look at every race on the Saturday and have some suggestions for who you should be backing.
Things get underway with this Novice hurdle over two mile, six furlongs. Latest Exhibition opened favourite for this race and has been a real flag-bearer for Paul Nolan this season. He beat Andy Dufresne last time out in a grade two at Navan.
Weighing up the form of that race was made slightly tougher when Andy Dufresne was ruled out of the Novice Hurdle races at the Festival. Fury Road from that stable is the next obvious candidate, unbeaten this season, and has the benefit of this trip being ideal for the six-year-old by Stowaway. Drying ground will also pose no issues, having won in his point to point days on good and yielding.
He, at the prices, just shades it for me. The rest of the field deserve plenty of respect. You can read Rachael Blackmore’s views on Cobbler’s Way here.
A Plus Tard
A high-class renewal of the Dublin Chase which is a mini Queen Mother Champion Chase in its own right. Chacun Pour Soi is the market leader and boasts an impressive CV having beaten Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last season.
This season, we have seen Willie Mullins’ fragile chaser just once when behind A Plus Tard over Christmas. Rachael Blackmore’s mount was in great form that day and Chacun Pour Soi will need to come on for that run to reverse the form.
It is just not the Cheveley Park Stud-owned six-year-old that the warm favourite has to contend with. Min may be a bit closer to being considered a national hunt veteran at this stage but he showed plenty of spark when winning at Punchestown in December.
Beyond his stablemate in the same silks, he also has to fear Cilaos Emery who could well have a big say; another horse that is the type to have his niggles, he may just offer some value in this hot renewal and cause a big shakeup in the ante post markets.
Highly regarded in his younger days he remains an exciting chaser. Make sure you keep one eye on the Cheltenham Festival Champion Chase ante post market. My tip for the race is to back A Plus Tard to confirm the form and claim another big race for connections today.
Bapaume Each Way
BetVictor ambassador Rachael Blackmore has several nice rides over the two days but Notebook would be one of the standouts.
Currently rated 158, old foe Fakir D’oudairies takes him on again here. The decreasing weight for age scale means he only gets a five-pound pull versus the seven he got when finishing behind Henry De Bromheads star.
The Willie Mullins pair of Bapaume and Melon are intriguing candidates. Bapaume is the one I am more interested in, whilst Paul Townend has opted for Melon who has finished behind Notebook before.
Bapaume is a mare I have plenty of interest in. You can probably put a line in the first chase start this season where she finished very tired. The mare clearly is talented and versatile when it comes to whatever trip she goes over. I will make her an each-way option in a cracking race which Mullins has won six times since 2002.
Éclair De Beaufeu Each Way
We have some proper grand old servants and friends from the past in this handicap chase over the two mile, one furlong trip.
Gordon Elliott runs a trio of Duca De Thaix, Avenir D’Une Vie and Éclair De Beaufeu. It is the youngest of the three that I am most interested in. Rated 140, he has form chasing home the likes of Irish Arkle favourite, Notebook.
In a Beginners Chase, drying ground could be the only concern. Sean O’Keeffe takes off a useful five pounds and a small each-way play looks a good option here.
Buildmeupbuttercup Each Way
Safe to say the 15.45 looks one of the biggest challenges to find the winner of over the weekend.
9/2 the field at the time of writing, we are faced with a mixed bag of improvers, experienced horses and chasers coming back to the smaller obstacles.
Flat winner Buildmeupbuttercup has plenty of pace and given what we can expect from the race, that will be a huge asset. Two recent seconds; one on the Flat at Naas and then at Fairyhouse last time out showed plenty of promise and that the horse remains well, the one concern could just be his jumping needs improving as mistakes in a race like this will end any challenge.
Best of luck if you are playing in this tough contest. Each-way punters can claim five places with us.
We close the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival with an amazing bumper stacked full of previous winners. Whilst it looks a classy renewal, Eric Bloodaxe is a real stand out.
He beat Wide Receiver when giving him four pounds last time out and was impressive again. He can provide favourite backers with at least one short-priced good thing on an amazing day of National Hunt racing.
Best of luck with your bets for the weekend. Don’t forget to visit our specials for each day of the Dublin Festival, which will include some great bet boosts. Day One, we have enhanced Rachael Blackmore to score a double on A Plus Tard and Notebook at 12/1.