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Gary O’Brien: My picks for Sunday at Leopardstown

03 Feb | BY Gary O’Brien | MIN READ TIME |
Gary O’Brien: My picks for Sunday at Leopardstown

The Irish racing broadcaster runs through the card on the first day at the Dublin Racing Festival and offers his selections.


The opening Mares Hurdle is always competitive and often very informative for handicaps later in the Spring. FEET OF A DANCER / is a horse I’ve put up before and is still on a workable mark. She was put on ice for this race after winning at Fairyhouse last time, and she’s been really progressive in her career so far. Foxy Girl and Risk Belle do appear to be on good marks, so you’d have to expect those to run big races too, but i’d be siding with Feet Of A Dancer.  


The Grade 1 Novice Chase is a cracking race, with Willie Mullins holding three very strong ace cards. GAELIC WARRIOR / is the star attraction and although a lot was of made of his jumping out to his right last time, I don’t think it was as bad a it was made out to be. It’s certainly not as bad as it was over hurdles, and he really is the one to beat. Face To File is a stamp of a horse and is clearly a Gold Cup horse for the future, but whether he’ll have the pace to beat these, we’ll have to wait to see. 


The price is prohibitive, but you can’t go away from BALLYBURN / . He was awesome at Christmas and I think he’ll end up being the best novice hurdler in the country by the end of the year. There isn’t a two-and-a-half option at the Dublin Racing Festival – there is this 2m and then the 2m6f on the Saturday, so this would be his best option. I’m looking forward to seeing him run again. 


It really could be a tough afternoon for the layers with plenty of short priced horses who look like they have outstanding credentials – EL FABIOLO / being another. He’s the best horse and, although I won’t be winning any points for originality again, he will be very tough to beat if he’s on song. Gentleman De Mee won this very last year and is sure to give a good account of himself again, as is the other JP McManus-owned horse, Dinoblue.


The Willie Mullins and Paul Townend juggernaut can keep rolling in with State Man in the Irish Champion. He’s been very good again this season and is without doubt the one they have to beat. Despite the market suggesting Impaire Et Passe is the second best, I’d be keen on backing BOB OLINGER / to finish second. This season he’s shown that he’s almost back to his best and I’d say he should be much closer to Impaire Et Passe in the market. 


As expected, the handicap chase is fiercely competitive. You can throw a few darts in this. James Du Berlais and Meetingofthewaters are two that will run well off their current marks, for sure. With that said, though, I do think PERCEVAL LEGALLOIS / is worth a bet. He won the 3m handicap hurdle at the meeting last year and started his career over fences well by winning on his debut. He wasn’t far away when falling his next start, so i’m inclined to put a line through that run and, off his current mark, he’s got no weight on and looks a fair proposition at the right end of the handicap.


FLEUR AU FUSIL / could run very well in the concluding bumper. Obviously, all eyes will be on Aurora Vega but I was impressed with Fleur Au Fusil at Naas and they’ve kept her for this. 

Gary O’Brien

Gary O’Brien

Widely known as ‘the voice of Irish racing’, Gary is a horse racing broadcaster, presenter, and enthusiastic racehorse owner.

Gary O’Brien

Gary O’Brien

Widely known as ‘the voice of Irish racing’, Gary is a horse racing broadcaster, presenter, and enthusiastic racehorse owner.