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2019 Dublin Racing Festival day one tips - Through-the-card selections for Leopardstown on Saturday

It is day one of the Leopardstown Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday where four Grade One contests feature on a top-quality racecard.

Brian Healy gives his through-the-card selections for the first day of top-class horse racing action at Leopardstown as the Dublin Racing Festival gets underway.

The first of two cracking days’ horse racing action goes to post on Saturday at Leopardstown with day one of the Dublin Racing Festival, featuring no less than four Grade One races and a host of classy runners turning out to contest over the afternoon’s seven-race card.

Indeed, with races such as the Irish Champion Hurdle, Irish Arkle Chase and the Dublin Chase all on the agenda, there is sure to be plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues on offer on the opening day of the fantastic February feature.

12:50 - Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle(Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m6f
1:25 - BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m
2:00 - Ladbrokes Hurdle (Grade B Handicap) (4yo+ 0-150) 2m
2:35 - Matheson (C & G) I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 2) (4-7yo) 2m
3:10 - Ladbrokes Dublin Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m1f
3:45 - Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m1f
4:20 - Goffs Handicap Chase (Grade B) (5yo+ 0-150) 2m1f

And Brian Healy takes a race-by-race look ahead to Saturday’s classy racecard where he has selections in all seven of the day’s contests.

12:50 - Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle(Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m6f


A cracking opener to this top-class fixture and a chance is taken that COMMANDER OF FLEET (9/2, Unibet) can prove better than he was able to show at Fairyhouse in December when finishing a disappointing last of four runners behind Quick Grabim in the Royal Bond Hurdle.

Gordon Elliott’s charge had won a point-to-point prior to joining this yard, and while he won a Punchestown bumper on his first outing for his new handler, he posted an impressive success on his hurdles debut when upped in trip back at that venue.

He ran out an easy six lengths winner on that occasion, showing signs of inexperience; and while that form is only ordinary he can continue to find improvement. Although well beaten last time, there is a suspicion that the drop back to two miles was all against him, and he can do better back over a longer trip.

He is the choice of Jack Kennedy from the Gigginstown quartet, and he is worth another chance to confirm the promise he had shown previously at Punchestown. 

1:25 - BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m


Supasundae won this race twelve months ago, beating Faugheen, and Jessica Harrington’s charge can post another big run in defence of his crown. The Galileo gelding is however 0-3 in meetings with APPLE’S JADE (11/10, Unibet) and that unwanted sequence could extend to four with Gordon Elliott’s star mare taken to collect this prize.

TheSaddler Maker mare won her first three starts last term, which included a defeat of Supasundae over three miles in the Christmas Hurdle, and although not at her best in subsequent clashes with Benie Des Dieux at Cheltenham and Punchestown she has bounced back to form this season with wins in each of her three starts to date.

Those wins include beating Supasundae again in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, after which she was an impressive winner here when successfully defending her Christmas Hurdle crown.

If there is to be a chink in her armour, it could come from the drop back to two miles for this contest; but while most of her winning has been done over further, she is versatile over distance and she has won twice at this trip so the lesser yardage need not be a huge concern.

She ought to prove a tough nut to crack, and every chance she can strike win number four of the season in a race where she receives weight from all her rivals.

Apple's Jade can make it four wins for the season in Saturday's Irish Champion Hurdle.



2:00 - Ladbrokes Hurdle (Grade B Handicap) (4yo+ 0-150) 2m


A hugely competitive handicap could go the way of OFF YOU GO (9/1, Unibet) who is forgiven his latest effort behind the reopposing Wonder Laish where plenty went wrong for the Presenting gelding, and Charles Byrnes’ charge can bounce back.

The six-year old had previously rattled off a hat-trick of wins, which included here last February when beating Deal D’estruval, and he subsequently returned from almost nine months off following that success to beat another of today’s rivals in Hearts Are Trumps at Galway where he gave that rival 9lbs.

An early stumble in his latest outing put him on the back-foot and left him in a poor position, and he probably did too much to get back into the race before fading in the straight at Punchestown.

He reopposes here on better terms with the winner of that Punchestown race and a couple of other rivals who turn out again here, and it would be no surprise if he were to quickly put the form of that latest run behind him with an improved effort.

2:35 - Matheson (C & G) I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 2) (4-7yo) 2m


Willie Mullins won this race twelve months ago with Blackbow, and while the unbeaten Envoi Allen looks sure to go close, he could be worth taking on with MT LEINSTER (5/1, Unibet) who will bid to give the County Carlow trainer back-to-back wins.

The Beat Hollow gelding made a good impression when scoring on his debut at Ballinrobe last September, and he lost no caste in defeat subsequently when finding only Malone Road too good at Punchestown in November, beaten eight lengths behind the one-time Champion Bumber ante-post favourite.

Too keen here in a first-time hood over Christmas, he could only manage a close third behind Benruben; but he was giving weight away all round on that occasion and he can post a big effort here if settling better.

He receives 3lbs from Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten star, who was impressive when winning a Listed race at Navan when last seen, but still open to improvement the Mullins runner can make the most of the weight concession to go close in this contest.

Willie Mullins can get amongst the winners on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.



3:10 - Ladbrokes Dublin Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m1f


Simply Ned loves this track, and Nicky Richards’ charge comes into this race on the back of a win here last time out when posting a Grade One surprise win over Footpad. However, he was readily brushed aside in this contest twelve months ago by a resurgent MIN (4/6, Unibet) and Willie Mullins’ charge can successfully defend his crown.

The Walk In The Park gelding had also beaten the same rival the time before, and following on from his win in this race last year the eight-year old chased home Altior at Cheltenham, and Politologue at Aintree where he was possibly just stretched by the trip in the soft ground.

The Mulliins runner ran flat at Punchestown on his final outing of the campaign, finishing fourth to stablemate Un De Sceaux; but that run came just 11 days on from Aintree and the outing probably came too soon for him.

Impressive on his return when beating Shattered Love and others to win the John Durkan Memorial Chase, he will have no issue returning to this shorter trip and he rates the one to beat here. He is unbeaten in three starts over fences at this venue, and given plenty of time following his latest Punchestown win he can mount a successful title defence.

3:45 - Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m1f


LE RICHEBOURG (7/4, Unibet) was an impressive winner here over the Festive period, beating the reopposing Us And Them as well as both Voix De Reve and Mengli Khan when claiming the Racing Post Novice Chase, and Joseph O’Brien’s charge can confirm that form with his rivals.

The Network gelding was a very smart hurdler, winning three times and making the frame here behind Whiskey Sour in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle - albeit fortunate - but he looks an even better chaser and he won his first two starts over fences at Listowel and Tipperary prior to bumping into the potentially high-class Delta Work at Fairyhouse in the Drinmore Novices’ Chase.

Beaten only a half-length there, he was value for more than his latest four lengths’ success, overcoming a late mistake to score comfortably. Open to further improvement and still unexposed over fences, a repeat of that effort could prove good enough to see him follow up, and he could prove a tough nut to crack.

Le Richebourg (left) can follow up his latest win at this venue over Christmas with success in the Irish Arkle Chase.



4:20 - Goffs Handicap Chase (Grade B) (5yo+ 0-150) 2m1f


TISAMYSTERY (9/1, Unibet) isn’t the most consistent of performers, but Henry de Bromhead’s charge could be worth chancing to win this competitive handicap closer.

The Definite Article gelding is a veteran now at the age of eleven, and although his form is patchy he does boast an unbeaten record at this venue where he is 2-2 in starts here. The latest of those came when beating Cubomania on Boxing Day, running out a six lengths’ winner under this rider where he appeared to do the job cosily.

That form has been done no harm since, and while on these terms he faces a much tougher ask in a stronger race he might be worth chancing to follow up while he remains on good terms with himself.

Quite a few of these rivals arrive on the back of lesser efforts, but he is at least in decent heart and for all this is more competitive it would be no surprise to see him post another solid run at this track.

2019 DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL TIPS - DAY ONE SELECTIONS


12:50 - COMMANDER OF FLEET (9/2, Unibet)

1:25 - APPLE’S JADE (11/10, Unibet)

2:00 - OFF YOU GO (9/1, Unibet)

2:35 - MT LEINSTER (5/1, Unibet)

3:10 - MIN (4/6, Unibet)

3:45 - LE RICHEBOURG (7/4, Unibet)

4:20 - TISAMYSTERY (9/1, Unibet)

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2019 Dublin Racing Festival day one tips - Through-the-card selections for Leopardstown on Saturday

Brian Healy gives his through-the-card selections for the first day of top-class horse racing action at Leopardstown as the Dublin Racing Festival gets underway.

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