This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

2018 Ryanair Hurdle tips – 4/1 shot to bear fruit at Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Melon powering clear on his maiden victory around Leopardstown.

Our expert looks through the ante-post betting for the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle and provides readers with his tips for Leopardstown on Saturday 29th December.


The fourth and final day of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival is headlined by the Ryanair Hurdle, a two-mile Grade One which has been won by some of Ireland’s greatest hurdlers. Istabraq and Hurricane Fly are both four-time winners of this fabled Grade One, with Moscow Flyer and Brave Inca also standing out on the honours boards at Leopardstown.

The firm favourite to win this year’s edition is Samcro (6/4 Paddy Power), who has had his copybook blotted on all of his past three starts. Once lauded as a certain Gold Cup winner, Gordon Elliott’s charge has now suffered three straight defeats and travels to Leopardstown on the back of a resounding loss to Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.

There is, however, plenty of reason for Elliott to be optimistic and remain on-course for a rematch with Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle. Samcro looks to be a horse who needs lots of running and there’s no doubting the effort he put up at Newcastle was better than the one he registered behind Bedrock (25/1 William Hill) in the WKD Hurdle. Samcro’s most dominant performance as a novice came over course-and-distance in the Deloitte back in February and, despite recent failings, he remains the one to beat. 

Leading the chasing pack is Sharjah (3/1 William Hill), who crossed the line third behind Bedrock and Samcro in the WKD Hurdle. Willie Mullins Galway Hurdle winner then upset Faugheen in winning the Morgiana Hurdle, but that victory – I fell – has been blown a little out of proportion and I would be surprised if Sharjah was able to mount another winning challenge.

Espoir D’Allen (16/1 BetVictor) was touted as the best of the Irish juveniles for a long spell last season, that was until a surprise defeat in February’s Spring Juvenile Hurdle and a setback ruled him out for the rest of the campaign. Gavin Cromwell’s charge was on hand to capitalise on a fall from Saldier on his first start of the new season, seeing off Mr Adjudicator to win the Fishery Lane and he could be a contender for the places here.
It will be interesting to see whether Bedrock makes the final field, having been pulled from the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. Iain Jardine’s charge was bought by American owners just before he lowered Samcro’s colours at Down Royal and, if he does remain in the running, he will fancy his chances of upsetting the favourite again.

Laurina (12/1 Paddy Power) features in the betting, but Willie Mullins has given little indication that she will run during Leopardstown and her lengthy odds suggest Ireland’s Champion Trainer has other plans. Supasundae (10/1 BetVictor) ended last season as Ireland’s top two-miler and appeals at an each-way price. Sadly, it seems Jessica Harrington has her heart set on the three-mile Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle and another epic showdown with Apple’s Jade.

Samcro looks to have an excellent chance of getting off the mark this season. That being said, Gordon Elliott’s seasonal objective is to get his charge ready for the Champion Hurdle. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if he were beaten into second again and the one who I will be backing on Saturday is MELON (4/1 Paddy Power).

It was a real turn-up for the books when Melon almost produced a winning run in the Champion Hurdle, Buveur D’Air looked in trouble at the final jump but the two-time winner’s class shone through in the closing stages. Like Samcro, Melon suffered a fall on his final start of the season at Punchestown and was travelling every bit as sweetly as his rival before coming down at the same obstacle.

Willie Mullins is yet to send Melon out so far this term. That shouldn’t put you off backing Melon though, as he boasts a perfect reappearance record and scored over course-and-distance on his stable debut. Samcro could end up proving his doubters wrong and run away with the Ryanair, but I fancy Melon will be on the premises should the favourite fall flat once again.


Share this with your friends

To:
From:
Your comments:

2018 Ryanair Hurdle tips – 4/1 shot to bear fruit at Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Our expert looks through the ante-post betting for the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle and provides readers with his tips for Leopardstown on Saturday 29th December.

Read more »

You have unread messages

    You have unread messages