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2018 Dublin Racing Festival winners and losers – Where are they now?

Edwulf (centre, red cap) jumps the last on his way to winning the Irish Gold Cup.

We take a look back at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival and see how the big winners and losers have fared since their runs at Leopardstown last January.

The first ever staging of the Dublin Racing Festival was an unprecedented success and, thanks to an influx in prize money, the 2019 renewal looks set to be even bigger and better. Last year, many of jumps racing’s biggest stars strutted their stuff at Leopardstown and the Festival produced eight horses who went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

We’ve decided to take a look back at last season’s Dublin Racing Festival to see how the victors, and the significant underperformers, have fared since their appearance at Leopardstown.

Winners

Min


After being stripped of a race over Christmas, Min gained revenge on Simply Ned in the first ever edition of the Dublin Chase, powering clear of his rival to register a 12-length success. A second defeat a the hands of Altior followed in the Champion Chase, before Min suffered two further defeats at Aintree and Punchestown.

Willie Mullins decided to step Min back up to two-and-a-half-miles on his return to action in December and the transition did the trick, as Min held off the rallying Shattered Love to end his three-race losing streak. Min will now return to the race he won last year and square off against Simply Ned and one of his talented stablemates in the 2019 Dublin Chase.

Footpad


Footpad ran roughshod through the novice chasing ranks in Ireland last year, claiming his third victory over fences with an effortless Triumph in the Frank Knight Arkle. Mullins' charge then continued his winning streak in the Arkle at Cheltenham, before rounding off a mesmerising novice campaign with a lengthy triumph at the Punchestown Festival.

Experts and punters alike were expecting Footpad to continue his dominance over fences this season, setting up a mouth-watering clash with Altior in the Champion Chase. Yet, a fall on his reappearance was followed by defeat at the hands of Simply Ned over Christmas and Footpad will enter this years’ Dublin Chase with a huge point to prove.

Footpad (right) flies over the last on his way to winning The Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novices Chase.

Supasundae


Jessica Harrington decided, after watching her charge narrowly fall short behind Apple’s Jade in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, that a drop back to two miles would be the perfect prep for a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle. I doubt even she expected Robbie Power's mount to be cruising past Faugheen upon jumping the last and the team celebrated wildly as Supasundae claimed the Irish Champion Hurdle crown.

Narrow defeats followed over longer trips at Cheltenham and Aintree, but Supasundae was on-hand to capitalise on a couple of untimely falls to win the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and end the season as Ireland’s top two-miler. This season, Supasundae has twice been defeated, but he will return to the Irish Champion Hurdle with genuine chances before a maiden crack at Cheltenham’s two-mile showpiece.

Samcro


Few expected Gordon Elliott’s budding superstar to even break a sweat in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle and no-one was surprised to see the all-conquering Samcro cruise to a maiden Grade One success. An even more impressive victory followed in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and even a fall when pitched in with his elders at Punchestown wasn’t enough to slow down the Samcro bandwagon.

Sadly, the wheels came off said vehicle at the start of this season. After choosing a tilt at the Champion Hurdle instead of going novice chasing, Gordon Elliott was forced to watch his charge get beaten by Bedrock in the WKD Hurdle, Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth and again at Leopardstown over Christmas, where Samcro faded tamely in the Ryanair Hurdle. It has since been revealed that Samcro was suffering from a lung infection over Christmas and it’s unlikely we’ll see Elliott’s talented charge until he goes chasing next season.

Edwulf


Edwulf miraculous recovery from the brink of death was completed at the Dublin Racing Festival. Less than a year after he was revived on the track at the Cheltenham Festival, Derek O'Connor guided Joseph O’Brien’s stayer to a stunning victory in the Irish Gold Cup, holding his nerve after the last to beat Outlander by half-a-length.

Seventh and eighth-placed finished followed in the Gold Cups at Cheltenham and Punchestown. Results haven’t been too much better this year, with Edwulf crossing the line eighth of eleven in the Savills Chase over Christmas. O’Brien’s stable star will carry similarly lengthy odds into the Irish Gold Cup as he did last year, but he will be greeted like a former champion should and everyone will be hoping that Edwulf returns to the stables safe and sound.

Robbie Power and Supasundae (left) storm past Faugheen on their way to winning the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Losers

Faugheen


The racing world rejoiced as one when Faugheen made a triumphant return to action in the Morgiana Hurdle last year, streaking to an impressive 15-length success. Even a disappointing failure over Christmas couldn’t stop Faugheen carrying an odds-on price into last year’s Irish Champion Hurdle and Mullins superstar was traveling wel,l for the most part, only for Supasundae to swoop between the final two obstacles and relegate the favourite to second.

After a weak performance at the Cheltenham Festival, Mullins decided the time was right to push Faugheen up to three miles. What followed was one of the most outstanding displays of staying hurdling in recent memory, as “the machine” bounced back with a vengeance to win the Champion Stayers’ at Punchestown. A heavy fall at Leopardstown last month could curtail his season, but it would be wonderful to see Faugheen make an appearance in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham before heading into blissful retirement.

Espoir D'Allen


Gavin Cromwell’s youngster looked to be one of the most talented juveniles in training during the early knockings last season. Four successive victories over hurdles saw Espoir D’Allen carry an odds-on price into the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. His supporters, however, were left scratching their heads as the favourite bombed out the back, finishing a distant fourth, forcing Cromwell to remove his four-year-old from action for the rest of the season.

Espoir D’Allen returned with a bang in the Fishery Lane Hurdle in November, comfortably defeating Spring Juvenile winner, Mr Adjudicator. Two further Grade Three victories have followed at Limerick and Naas and, although he won’t be returning to the scene of his only defeat over jumps, Espoir D’Allen looks to be a genuine Champion Hurdle contender.

Our Duke


Jessica Harrington’s charge hit the headlines at Fairyhouse in 2017, cantering to a stunning 14-length triumph in the Irish Grand National. Gold Cup dreams were put on hold when, after a dismal performance in the JNWine, veterinary examinations found Our Duke to be suffering with a kissing spine. Harrington’s charge was then backed into favouritism for the Irish Gold Cup following a successful operation, but Our Duke’s jumping let him down as he could only finish fourth behind Edwulf.

Victory over Presenting Percy in the Red Mills Chase thrust Our Duke back into the Cheltenham Festival picture, but Robbie Power’s mount couldn’t get into any rhythm on the big stage and was pulled up well before the end. Harrington was still confident her chaser would be back to his best for another tilt at the Gold Cup this year, only for tragedy to strike during the summer and Our Duke lost his life after suffering a fatal heart attack.

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2018 Dublin Racing Festival winners and losers – Where are they now?

We take a look back at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival and see how the big winners and losers have fared since their runs at Leopardstown last January.

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