Dublin Racing Festival – Day One Preview
With eight Grade 1’s over two days racing, the Dublin Racing Festival is rapidly becoming one of the highlights in the Irish racing calendar. The feature on Day One is the Irish Gold Cup, for which Galopin Des Champs heads a strong but select field for the Grade One contest.
15:05 Irish Gold Cup
From Carvill’s Hill to Florida Pearl, many of the great staying chasers of the last 30 years have triumphed in this race, and Willie Mullins’ superstar Galopin Des Champs very much has the potential to put his name up there with the very best of them.
A final fence blip in last year’s Turners at Cheltenham is the only blot on his copybook over fences so far, and even then, he had the race at his mercy with the eventual winner Bob Ollinger toiling in behind.
The manner in which he travels and jumps through his races suggests he’d be as strong a contender in the Champion Chase as he would in the Gold Cup, and although this looks one of the toughest questions asked of him so far, it will take a serious performance to stop him, granted a clear round.
His biggest challenger could almost certainly come from his stablemate, and last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Stattler. Although he disappointed slightly when edged out by Minella Indo at Tramore on New Year’s Day, that 2m6f trip will have very much been the minimum for him, so Willie Mullins’ improving stayer will almost certainly appreciate this stiffer test of stamina
A winner of this race back in 2019, Kemboy proved he still retains more than enough ability to get involved at this level when a respectable second behind Conflated here in the Savills Chase over Christmas. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he outran his odds, while the same applies to Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road, who himself is a Grade 1 winner over this C&D.
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Three to follow on Day One at Leopardstown
15:40 Leopardstown – Max Flamingo
No doubt there’ll be plenty of support for Gordon Elliott’s rapidly improving six-year-old Maxxum in this, but there looks to be a dangerously handicapped rival lurking in the pack in the shape of Max Flamingo.
Francis Casey’s eight-year-old is better known as a chaser these days, but a glance over his hurdles runs from 2021 shows some solid form over the smaller obstacles. He was last seen pulling up over fences in the Munster National back in October, but that was off a mark of 144, some 17lb higher than the hurdles mark he runs off in this.
Each of his four career wins have come on decent ground, so providing the dry forecast materialises, he could be a lively each-way contender at a big price.
16:10 Leopardstown – Final Orders
Although he was a pretty moderate hurdler, Final Orders has taken off over fences, and arrives here in pursuit of a four-timer. The latest of his wins came over this C&D when making all back in December, and although another hike in the weights demands more, it remains to be seen where the ceiling lies for Gavin Cromwell’s horse.
There doesn’t appear to be tonnes of pace on here either, so if Final Orders is able to dictate things from the front once again, then he could take plenty of pegging back for his in-form yard.
16:40 Leopardstown – Better Days Ahead
An incredibly open looking Grade 2 bumper to conclude the card, but Gordon Elliott’s Better Days Ahead looked every inch a graded performer when winning at Fairyhouse last time.
Although he was a beaten favourite at 1-3 on his first start for this yard at Down Royal in November, Better Days Ahead travelled ominously well behind the leaders last time, and recorded a very smooth success over the well-regarded Chapeau De Soleil.
This contest clearly demands more, but he’ll get maximum assistance from the saddle with Jamie Codd on board once again, and the manner of that Fairyhouse victory suggests he could have the ability to go right to the very top.