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Katie Walsh: My review of the Dublin Racing Festival

07 Feb | BY Katie Walsh | MIN READ TIME |
Katie Walsh: My review of the Dublin Racing Festival

The Betway ambassador runs through most impressive performances from Leopardstown over the weekend, including Il Etait Tempts, Galopin Des Champs and State Man.


Again, the Dublin Racing Festival delivered another exceptional weekend of racing. 

Dancing City was just the best horse on the day and was given a great ride from Danny Mullins, who rode out of his skin this weekend. He was straightforward and did it well. I’d like to think there is a big future for Predators Gold, though. He was too keen but stayed on well and will be winning plenty going forward. 

Kargese is a very good horse who was too keen at Christmas on her debut for Willie Mullins but did it all right way under Danny on Saturday. This race will throw up some winners and there will be plenty to look out for going forward. They’ve all got a tough task on their hands to beat Sir Gino if they head to the Triumph, but they’ll all be winning plenty themselves, so the future looks bright for these young horses.

Danny Mullins then bagged his third winner of the afternoon on Il Etait Temps. Make no mistake, Marine Nationale underperformed and Facile Vega was slightly underwhelming without being too disappointing, but the winner was given a good ride and again, on the day, was the best horse. He’s a strong traveller who will wait to pick up the pieces in his races, and those tactics paid off on Saturday.

Dad’s horse Gaoth Chuil ran really well in the 3m handicap hurdle. She was just pushed too far wide, but you can’t take anything away from her performance. Coming down to the last, I thought she’d win but then when Yeats Star came to her I thought she would finish third. She put her head down, though, and finished second. All roads lead to the Pertemps next month! 

I really liked the way Galopin Des Champs did it in the Irish Gold Cup. There were only four runners, but it was a strong field on the face of it. Fastorslow ran very well, too. He did put it up to Galopin Des Champs coming down to the second last, which made a bit more of a race of it, but I think Paul would have been very happy with what he had left under the bonnet as they went over the last. It’s no secret that he’s the one to beat in the Gold Cup, in what is a special year for the race on its 100-year anniversary.

It was so good to see Sophie Leech’s Madara dot up in the Listed Handicap Chase. He travelled and jumped so well and looked very well-handicapped. James Reveley came over from France and he’ll take the ride again at Cheltenham next month, where you’d expect the Grand Annual will be on the cards.

Jeroboam Machine was very good in the bumper and would have been a real force to be reckoned with in the spring bumpers. He’s picked up an injury and is now out for the season, but he’ll be exciting when he goes over hurdle next season. 


Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have had a great season so far and in Brucio they had a good winner of the mares handicap hurdle on Sunday under JJ Slevin. She’s getting the hang of the game now. She was miles beaten at Sedgefield at the start of the season but has really come on since. 

Risk Belle was clearly very well fancied and went off a very well-backed 3/1 favourite but just couldn’t get there and will be winning races off her mark. 

The Grade 1 Novice Chase looked like a cracker before it became a two-horse race, albeit between two very good horses. Let’s be straight, that wasn’t the true Gaelic Warrior. He was beaten miles out – he just didn’t turn up and it was a reminder that there is no such thing as a certainty in this game. Take nothing away from the winner Fact To File though. He is a grand horse who is only going to get better and better with racing and experience. 

Ballyburn looked really good in the Grade 1 Novice over 2m. He travelled, jumped, quickened and ran on through the line, doing everything Paul asked him. He’s a fine, big horse and will have no problem if he sticks to the minimum distance or goes up in trip. He could well be the best novice hurdler this season. 

It was no surprise to see El Fabiolo do what he did in the Dublin Chase. I do think that the better the race and the faster the pace he can aim at, the better he jumps. He’s looked super this season and when Paul gave him a kick in the belly, he was savage and did it so impressively. He is the one they’ve all got to beat in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase next month. I can’t wait to see him again. 

The eighth and final Grade 1 of the weekend was won by a very good State Man. He did what he had to do. Look, we know Constitution Hill could be a bit of a freak of a horse, but State Man is the best of what we have in Ireland, and he’ll definitely give him a race. What I’ve liked most about State Man this season, is the fact his jumping is slicker now. He’s solid, consistent and will give his best.

I was very impressed with Heart Wood, an unexposed young horse who is rapidly improving. He jumped savage and won it in great fashion. I’d be keeping him onside going forward, wherever he goes next. 

It was also great to see Harry Rogers win the Listed Handicap Hurdle with Lord Erskine. Harry is a lovely man who will only have a small number of horses, so to win on the big day and beat the bigger yards is great. It was a great prize pot for him to win and no one could begrudge having the winner! 

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Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh

Successful former jump jockey who, until 2021, boasted the best ever Grand National finishing position by a female jockey.

Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh

Successful former jump jockey who, until 2021, boasted the best ever Grand National finishing position by a female jockey.