With the Cheltenham Festival just over a month away, racing fans are in for a pre-Festival treat this weekend with the second staging of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
With eight Grade Ones to enjoy, it promises to be fantastic viewing and our racing expert is here to preview it all and pick out his best bets to look out for.
Irish Champion Hurdle
Of the four Grade Ones on Saturday, the best bet must surely come in the Irish Champion Hurdle where Apple’s Jade looks a great bet to make it four wins from four this season.
Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old mare has looked better than ever this season and while it’s a slight concern that she’s dropping back to two miles for the first time since November 2016, she has looked all about speed this term and I fancy her to win again.
She also gets a handy 7lbs mare’s allowance from her main two rivals Melon and Supersundae, which should make her task easier, especially considering she’s rated four and five pounds superior to them anyway.
Take the 6/5 about her now as you’d imagine she’ll be shorter come the off!
Irish Gold Cup
The top-quality action doesn’t stop there though with four more Grade Ones on Sunday with the Irish Gold Cup the highlight.
Presenting Percy laid down a fair marker last week and his main Cheltenham Gold Cup rivals from Ireland will be out to prove they’ve got what it takes to challenge him in March.
Road to Respect is a fair favourite based on his demolition job in the Champion Chase at Down Royal in November. He then ran with credit in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas considering he stumbled three from the finish. He battled back well after that and almost finished second, but it’s the horse who beat him that day Kemboy who I fancy to win here before taking the Gold Cup crown in March.
Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old has always been thought of as a top-class staying chaser in the making and he proved it with a seven length victory last time.
I was very keen on him at Newbury recently but the Mullins team had travel problems and he wasn’t able to board the boat over to England. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet and I’m convinced he’s the one who can really serve it up to Presenting Percy in March.
He’s available at 11/2 and that’s a price that should be snapped up.
Want to know which jockeys have performed well at the Cheltenham Festival? Read our blog on the Most Famous Jockeys in the UK.