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2018 Savills Chase tips – Two ante-post tips for Leopardstown’s Christmas highlight

A view of the last fence as Road To Respect (centre) challenges Balko Des Flos (near) 12 months ago.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown and provides readers with his tips on Friday 28th December.

It’s always a highly anticipated day when the field for the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown is confirmed and - whether under the sponsorship of Ericsson, Lexus or, for now, Savills – it remains a race that’s at the forefront of the mind come Christmas time. This Grade One, three-mile chase has been wowing fans in Ireland since the mid 1980s, with legends like Beef Or Salmon, Best Mate and Denman standing out on the honours boards at the historic Dublin venue. 

Road To Respect (7/2 William Hill) added his name to that illustrious list 12 months ago, heading two of his stablemates in what was a thrilling finish to this prestigious race. Noel Meade’s charge then ran a decent race to finish fourth in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, before placing third in the Punchestown equivalent, where a couple of jumping errors denied him the chance to challenge the leading duo.

After skipping a reappearance in the Irish Daily Star, Road To Respect was sent to the JNWine Champion Chase fresh. Sean Flanagan and his mount were pipped to the post in that Grade One by Outlander (20/1 Coral) the previous season, but this year, Road To Respect proved he was the classiest horse in the race – destroying a strong field by 16 lengths – and he returns to Leopardstown as the horse to beat.

Davy Russell riding Presenting Percy on their way to winning the RSA.


Accompanying Road To Respect at the top of the market is Presenting Percy (4/1 Paddy Power), who is yet to appear thus far this season, after Pat Kelly decided to sidestep the John Durkan Memorial. Presenting Percy ended last season as the top staying novice chaser in the business, powering to victory over a strong field in the RSA at Cheltenham. Kelly has given his charge an alternative Christmas option, inclining he could be supplemented for the King George at Kempton, but Presenting Percy would be a looming danger should he feature in the final field.

Willie Mullins handed Bellshill (6/1 Ladbrokes) the objective of the Irish Grand National at the start of the season and didn’t send his mount out until the Bobbyjo Chase at the end of February. Despite winning that key trial, things didn’t go to plan at Fairyhouse – where Bellshill was travelling like the likely winner before an error at the last demoted him to fifth. Graham Wylie’s star then proved his quality by beating Djakadam to the Punchestown Gold Cup and Bellshill is yet to be beaten on his first start of a season.

The only other runner currently sitting on a single-figure price is Sizing John (8/1 Paddy Power) and Jessica Harrington’s former Cheltenham hero is sure to have plenty of support. A sparkling victory in the John Durkan filled Harrington and her camp with the hope that he would be able to retain his Gold Cup crown come Cheltenham. That was until Sizing John produced a poor display in this race – for which Harrington unearthed no veterinary explanation - and a knock picked up in the build-up to Cheltenham has ruled him out ever since.

Monalee’s (10/1 William Hill) novice campaign was littered with jumping errors. Henry De Bromhead’s charge fell when travelling powerfully in the Neville Hotels at this meeting 12 months ago, before suffering a similar fate when leading two from home in the Growise at Punchestown. Monalee was, however, the worthy winner of the Flogas Novices’ Chase at Punchestown. He didn’t run badly in defeat to Presenting Percy in the RSA and should come on from the third he recorded on his reappearance over an inadequate trip at Down Royal.

Noel Fehily and Monalee (right) hold on to win the Flogas Novice Steeplechase at Leopardstown.


Another talented horse to endure an inconsistent run of results as a novice was Al Boum Photo (12/1 Coral), who infamously ran Finian’s Oscar off the track in that calamitous renewal of the Growise. Despite failing to complete half of his runs last term, victory over Shattered Love in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse helped Al Boum Photo reach a rating of 159 and Willie Mullins’ enigmatic six-year-old has to be watched closely here.

Anibale Fly (10/1 Paddy Power) powered up the ratings at the end of last season, thanks to placed efforts in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and in the Grand National, where AJ Martin’s stable star carried 11-8 to fourth. Anibale Fly started off over two miles last term before cruising to victory in the 24 furlong handicap chase at this meeting. Martin has used a similar tactic this season and a strong round of jumping could see Anibale Fly challenge again at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins looked on as Kemboy (14/1 Ladbrokes) progressed nicely during the second half of last season and proved he still had plenty of scope for improvement during a reappearance victory over Alpha Des Obeaux at Clonmel. The Storyteller (20/1 Paddy Power) also enjoyed a prosperous spring, following victory in the Brown Advisory Plate with a fortuitous triumph in the Growise, and Gordon Elliott’s charge should relish the return to three miles after a couple over uncompetitive displays over shorter trips.

Edwulf (16/1 William Hill) shocked the world when winning the Irish Gold Cup back in February and Joseph O’Brien’s miracle horse should come on from his spin around Punchestown in the John Durkan. Balko Des Flos (25/1 Coral) has suffered defeat on both of his starts so far this season, but Henry De Bromhead’s charge was narrowly beaten carrying odds of 66/1 in this race 12 months ago and the reigning Ryanair winner could challenge for the places again.

Jack Kennedy points to the stands after winning the JLT with Shattered Love.

2018 Savills Chase Each-Way Tip



Second-season novices’ have a strong record in the Savills Chase, winning all of the past four editions. While Monalee appeals slightly more than the unpredictable Al Boum Photo, the classy and consistent SHATTERED LOVE (12/1 Ladbrokes) makes the greatest case for each-way selection.

Gordon Elliott identified Shattered Love as a potential Gold Cup contender at the start of the season and, despite finishing second twice, the JLT winner has only enhanced her credentials so far this term. A narrow defeat to Snow Falcon at Down Royal was followed by a similarly slim defeat to Min in the John Durkan, where Shattered Love ran on powerfully to challenge down the home straight. 

Elliott’s mare won the three-mile Neville Hotels Novice Chase last term and has proven herself at the highest level. 12/1 is an each-way price not to be passed up.

2018 Savills Chase Straight Win Tip



Presenting Percy is a classy operator destined for the top and Bellshill’s perfect reappearance record also makes him a likely challenger. That being said, no horse has claimed victory on their first start of the campaign since this race was handed Grade One status in 2002 and the race-fit ROAD TO RESPECT looks primed to retain his title.

I was so impressed with the way Road To Respect, and Sean Flanagan, conducted themselves in the JNWine. Flanagan held onto his mount at the rear for much of the contest and when he asked his mount for an effort, Road To Respect responded, tanking through the race and streaking clear with the minimum of effort.

At just seven, Road To Respect still looks open to improvement. He’s a course winner, a three-time Grade One victor and the unseasonably dry autumn we’ve endured should ensure the ground comes up favourably yielding.

Road To Respect has grown to be one of my favourite horses. I tipped him to win this race last year and he was my selection in the Gold Cup. I feel Noel Meade’s charge could be the best of the current crop of Irish staying chasers and I’d love to see Road To Respect register another dominant display at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.


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2018 Savills Chase tips – Two ante-post tips for Leopardstown’s Christmas highlight

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown and provides readers with his tips on Friday 28th December.

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