The two-day Dublin Racing Festival from Leopardstown is the highlight of a wonderful weekend of racing but we begin our preview at Sandown where Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air has his last run before the Festival in the listed Contenders Hurdle – a race he won twelve months ago before going on to Cheltenham glory.


Five go to post in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and Paul Nicholls steps Cyrname up to two-and-a-half miles for the first time following his impressive win over the minimum trip at Kempton over Christmas. His stamina has to be taken on trust, however, and he is overlooked.

The most interesting runner in the field is the chasing debutant No Comment but the vote goes to Kalondra (2.25) who belied his 10/1 odds when a fluent winner back in December. The selection is and I was impressed with his jumping last time.

The form has not exactly been franked, however, with runner up Coo Star Sivola given a poor ride last weekend back at Cheltenham, but the same can be said of the favourite Terrefort whose win at Huntingdon on his British debut was put into perspective when the runner up was brushed aside in a three-horse race at Catterick.

In the 3m Handicap Hurdle a chance is taken on Dr Richard Newland’s Dashing Perk (3.00) who might have been let in lightly off a mark of 127 for his handicap debut and he will carry just 10st 6lbs on Saturday afternoon. The selection was back-pedalling when coming down at Cheltenham on his reappearance and there is a concern about his stamina but he gets the each way vote at with with Irish raider Folsom Blue considered the main danger.

Palmers Hill went out like a light at Ascot last time and his 70-day absence from the track suggests there was something amiss although it is possible that his stamina gave way and Saturday afternoon’s shorter trip will suit the Jingo O’Neill trained runner.

He must run well but Colonial Dreams (4.10) is another dropping back in distance and he will find this easier than when trying to keep tabs with Black Op at Doncaster last time. The winner was beaten less than a length in a Cheltenham Grade 2 last weekend and the selection receives 8lbs from Palmers Hill including James Bowen’s 3lb claim.



Dashing Perk 

Colonial Dreams 


At Musselburgh, Another Stowaway (12.55) will appreciate the drop back in trip in the opener and do note he has had a wind operation and is wearing a first-time tongue-tie this afternoon for Tom George.

Barney Dwan (1.30) is a horse I have plenty of time for and he can land a fascinating Novices’ Chase despite the fact that this 2m 4f trip might be on the sharp side.

The 4m Edinburgh National is a cracker and I’m going to take a chance on Nicky Richards’s Looking Well (3.15) who has a good record fresh and can run off the same mark as when runner up at Doncaster last January. The selection is 14/1 at BetVictor and is another each way recommendation.


Another Stowaway 

Barney Dwan 

Looking Well 


At Wetherby, Red Rising (3.20) can go one better than when second at Cheltenham last month when he travelled like a well-handicapped horse for much of the race. If he is over those exertions, he must go close and a 2lbs rise is fair.


Red Rising 


At Lingfield, Master Archer (4.15) can end a run of frustrating seconds on the flat in the 12f maiden for James Fanshawe. The selection gets further and jockey Daniel Muscott must ensure the race does not become a tactical affair.


Master Archer 


The feature race at Leopardstown today is the Irish Champion Hurdle and Faugheen could turn this into a procession if back to his best, but we did not see the real Defi Du Seuil (3.30) at Ascot on his sole start this season and Richard Johnson flies over to ride the five-year-old with Barry Geraghty making the trip to Sandown.  At 6/1 he is another E/W selection.


Defi Du Seuil 

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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