Katie Walsh: My picks for the Dublin Racing Festival weekend
The Betway ambassador reveals her fancies for both Saturday and Sunday at Leopardstown, including her NAP of the weekend in the Juvenile Hurdle.
If the set of declarations for the Dublin Racing Festival doesn’t get your blood pumping, then you’re in the wrong game. The next two days racing at Leopardstown look set to be phenomenal and I can’t wait for it all to kick off.
Sunday at Leopardstown
There’s plenty more to get stuck into on Sunday.
I can’t see Aspire Tower getting beaten in the Juvenile Hurdle (13:25). He’s looked untouchable in his sphere this season and I’m sure there’s still more to come from him as well. This must be the NAP of the weekend, despite being a very short price.
The Chanelle Pharma (13:55) is usually one of the best indicators to organise the pecking order of the novice hurdlers, but this year doesn’t seem to have that same edge.
I will be siding with Easywork , who just keeps on winning. He’s improved massively this term and has managed to brush aside anything he has come up against. He’s clearly still improving and will give Jack Kennedy a great spin.
I don’t fancy anything in the Flogas Chase (15:00) but, I tell you what, there will not be a dry eye in the house if Faugheen were to win. He was superb the last day when he beat Samcro, showing his fire still burns. He’s got plenty of racing experience under his best and I’ll be cheering him home.
The Irish Gold Cup (15:30) has attracted a stellar field, hasn’t it?
We’re lucky to see such a high-class affair and I’ll be siding with Kemboy , who I think will improve enormously for his comeback run in the Savills Chase over Christmas. He looked in need of the run at the final fence that day and will no doubt be cherry ripe for this task.
It looks as though La Bag Au Roi will go off in the lead and Kemboy will be able to sit tight in behind and, the faster she goes, the more of a rhythm Paul [Townend] will be able to get into.
His jumping isn’t the best, but if he stays on his feet, then he’ll be very tough to beat, although Presenting Percy will not be far away at all, that is for sure.
Saturday at Leopardstown
I’m a big fan of Latest Exhibition in the opener on Saturday (12:50). Paul Nolan is very lucky to have such a lovely young horse in his stable and he really could be a machine.
He beat Andy Dufresne last time and, while plenty thought he under-performed, I don’t think that’s fair. He was just beaten by a better horse. He’ll really appreciate this step up in trip and this could be a well-deserved Grade 1 for the yard.
Martin Brassil’s Longhouse Poet could also run a big race as he’s stepping up in trip.
There will be plenty of people siding with Chacun Pour Soi and Min in the Dublin Chase (13:25), but I’m going to go against the grain because I really love Cilaos Emery .
He’s a smashing horse and was Willie’s [Mullins] best novice last year. It was such a shame that he got a small niggle and was ruled out of the Arkle but, in a competitive race, I can see him coming of age and running his heart out.
The Irish Arkle (14:00) is very competitive and I’m looking forward to seeing Fakir D’Oudairies , who is such a good jumper of a fence.
I’ve said it before, but there aren’t many novices who jump as well as he does. He’s a complete natural and has a good bit of toe to boot. He gets 5lb off the others and that should help him claim a Grade 1 success under Mark Walsh.
The big handicap (14:35) is very tough, though Dad’s [Ted Walsh] horse Batcio , who was an easy winner at Clonmel two starts ago, is expected to run a huge race.
He’s got a lovely racing weight and goes there in good form, but, with the strength of this race, he could run a corker and still finish sixth!
The Irish Champion Hurdle (15:10) will answer plenty of questions, namely whether or not Honeysuckle will go to the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
If she were to win this, I can’t see how they wouldn’t go for it. For me, getting the 7lb mares’ allowance from the others is what really gives her the edge here. She’s smart, make no mistake about it, and looks such a lovely ride.
She’ll be able to sit anywhere, and will no doubt track Petit Mouchoir around, who I expect will go on and make the running. It’s going to be a fantastic race, that’s for sure.
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