The Dublin Racing Festival is a two-day meeting held at Leopardstown in Ireland, and is made up of eight Grade 1 races. Last season’s inaugural meeting was a huge success, producing winners such as Samcro and Footpad – who subsequently went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival. We look set for another highly competitive day of Irish action on Saturday (Day 1), with my selections listed below. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JakePriceTips for updates and reaction throughout the day.
12:50 – Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m6f
This competitive Grade 1 Novice Hurdle over an unusual 2m6f opens the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival, and I have a selection which doesn’t take too much explaining. Dunvegan features in my Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Cheltenham Ante-Post Preview, and I’d strongly fancy him here at decent odds. Dunvegan was a very impressive Maiden winner at Fairyhouse in December, with the second (Swordsman) and third (Mormon) both winning since. He has previous form over hurdles having finished second to subsequent Grade 2 winner Pallasator here at Leopardstown last March. This run was especially impressive as it came during his bumper campaign, which concluded by winning at the Punchestown Festival. A step up in trip here shouldn’t be an issue for this six-year-old son of Le Havre, and Peter Fahy looks to have a serious animal on his hands. Commander Of Fleet looks the biggest danger to our selection stepped up to 2m6f having finished last in the Grade 1 Royal Bond over two-miles, and receives 2lbs here as a five-year-old. This impressive Punchestown Festival bumper winner made a good start to life over Hurdles at Punchestown prior to his narrow fourth over a distance too short, but there is a nice angle for him here stepping up in trip.
Dunvegan @ 9/2
13:25 – Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m
The Irish Champion Hurdle looks a relatively weak renewal on paper with just the six runners. As much as Apple’s Jade has been impressive this season, I can’t help but feel two-miles is on the sharp-side for her these days. Not seen over the minimum distance since second to Irving in the 2016 Fighting Fifth, I’ll be taking her on at such a short price. Melon looks the perfect candidate at the prices, having shaped like he needed the run when fourth at Leopardstown over Christmas. Connections are expecting a much-improved performance from the seven-year-old this weekend, and his second to Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle last season at Cheltenham is top class form. Gigginstown look to have a stranglehold on this race with four runners, and Petit Mouchoir would be of the most interest of the remainder having won this race in 2017.
Melon @ 11/4
14:00 – Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) – 2m
Wonder Laish has won well on his last two starts, winning a Navan Handicap Hurdle in November off 119 before scoring again at Fairyhouse in December off 136. The latter contest was a Grade A Handicap Hurdle where he had the likes of Saglawy, Cut The Mustard and Jezki inbehind – which definitely sets the standard here. Up to a mark of 144 now, this Charles Byrnes charge will take some stopping again due to his fantastic jumping technique. An each/way play in this could be Jetez, who is enjoying a successful campaign for Jessie Harrington. This six-year-old won a Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December when beating Willie Mullins’ Cut The Mustard by three-lengths, and has since finished second in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle behind Felix Desjy. This race is definitely a step up from his last Handicap run, however in receipt of 8lbs from the favourite, has the form to hit the frame.
Wonder Laish @ 3/1
Jetez Each/Way @ 14/1
14:35 – Future Stars NH Flat Race (Grade 2) – 2m
Envoi Allen – who features on my National Hunt Horses to Follow 2018/19 list – has been nothing short of fantastic this season after beating Port Stanley by four-lengths at Fairyhouse on debut for Gordon Elliot, before easily winning a Listed Bumper at Navan in December. I can’t see him getting beat here, but he’s not a betting proposition at odds-on.
Envoi Allen (No Bet)
15:10 – Dublin Chase (Grade 1) – 2m1f
Min is one of my favourite horses in training and always gives his all for leading owner Rich Ricci. Over two-miles there aren’t many better horses (bar Altior of course), and with stablemate Footpad not being declared, I will be surprised if Min doesn’t retain his crown in the Dublin Chase. The Willie Mullins charge is one to enjoy here however, with his price now odds-on. Note that if he did drift out to anything above evens, he would be a cracking bet.
Min (No Bet)
15:45 – Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1) – 2m1f
The Irish Arkle looks a tricky little contest this season, as Le Richebourg has been impressive but looks a short price. Knocknanuss is interesting having finished second behind Master Dino at Plumpton in January, however I find it hard to believe that a Newbury Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase winner can improve enough to land this Grade 1 prize. Paloma Blue looks interesting at a price, having featured on my ‘Horses to Follow’ list at the start of the season. This Henry de Bromhead charge disappointed on his Chase debut at Navan in November, but like last season he showed improvement at Leopardstown in December when winning a Beginners Chase by six-and-a-half-lengths. Real Steel was in second that day before taking a fall at the last, and it is unclear if our selection would’ve won anyway – however that rival has since come out and bolted up at Fairyhouse so the form looks rock solid. Last season this horse finished third at the Dublin Racing Festival behind Samcro – and if continuing his progression over fences under Robbie Power – he will go close at a nice each/way price.
Paloma Blue Each/Way @ 9/1
16:20 – Handicap Chase (Grade B) – 2m1f
Moon Over Germany looks an extremely well-handicapped horse based on his two starts over fences to date, having finished third on chase debut behind Getabird before running on for second over course and distance here at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting behind Paloma Blue (who will hopefully boost the form in the Irish Arkle!). Given a mark of 135 for those two runs, this Henry de Bromhead charge looks to have a fantastic chance carrying a nice weight of 11-4, with Robbie Power booked to ride. This race is full of exposed Handicap Chasers and although our lad is eight-years-old, he is extremely unexposed with very low mileage due to injuries in the past.
Moon Over Germany @ 11/2
Good luck! – Jake Price
Day 2 Selections:
12:40 – Sassy Diva @ 7/2 ✓
13:15 – Tiger Tap Tap @ 9/4
13:50 – Klassical Dream @ 3/1 ✓
14:25 – Dallas Des Pictons @ 10/3 ✓
15:00 – La Bague Au Roi (No Bet) ✓
15:35 – Al Boum Photo @ 9/4 Non-Runner
16:10 – Cubomania Each/Way @ 12/1