Boxing Day Leopardstown Preview – Racing Post Novice Chase

Ferny Hollow is one of Mullins' leading hopes on the opening day and is currently favourite for the Arkle.Ferny Hollow is one of Mullins' leading hopes on the opening day and is currently favourite for the Arkle.

Analysis of the Racing Post Novice Chase

Leopardstown host a competitive seven-race card this Boxing Day, including the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. Our tipsters have provided their thoughts on each individual runner as well as a tip for the race included. 

Runner-by-Runner Guide

Coeur Sublime 16/1

COEUR SUBLIME has remained very lightly raced since streaking away from the opposition in Grade 2 company at Down Royal back in 2019 and has only raced five times since then for three different trainers.

The six-year-old now runs for trainer Henry De Bromhead and made a great start to his chasing career when chasing home Ferny Hollow in a Beginners Chase event at punches town earlier this month. That was Coeur Sublime’s first run in almost a year and although beaten fair and square by Willie Mullins’ charge on that occasion, he will greatly improve for that seasonal outing. 

Ferny Hollow 10/11

Willie Mullins’ FERNY HOLLOW is currently the ante-post favourite for the Ankle at next year’s Cheltenham Festival and the six-year-old made the perfect start to life over fences when rallying to see off the challenge of Coeur Sublime at Punchestown.

The Cheveley Park Stud owned gelding was winning for the fourth time in a row after landing the 2020 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in front of Appreciate It before handing exciting novice Bob Olinger his first defeat in a Maiden Hurdle at Gowran Park.

Ferny Hollow suffered an injury after that clash with Henry De Bromhead’s star and missed the majority of the 2021 season. Connections could have continued to run him in open company over hurdles but the move to the larger obstacles to contest novice events looks a wise move and he should be a tough horse to beat in search of his second chase success. 

Gallant John Joe 100/1

GALLANT JOHN JOE looks to have a tough task on his hands as the eight-year-old has failed to win any of his chase starts and was readily brushed aside against Grade 1 opposition on his penultimate start at Leopardstown.

Oliver McKiernan’s runner looks outclassed in this contest and will find easier opportunities than this to break his duck over fences.

Grand Bornand 16/1

Five-year-old GRAND BORNAND only had five outings over hurdles and that included a comfortable win in a Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown in March under Paul Townend. However, Willie Mullins’ charge was very disappointing in his last two starts over the smaller obstacles, finishing last of nine in a Grade 2 Fairyhouse Novice hurdle after racing keenly before tailing off once more in a novice hurdle at Punchestown in April.

Grand Bornand appreciated his first run over fences and quickened clear in a very weak Beginners Chase at Galway back in July. There should be more to come from the five-year-old but he looks out of his depth in a contest such as this one and he will find easier opportunities as the season progresses.

Zoffanien 80/1

ZOFFANIEN has failed to convince over fences and after finishing a well-beaten fifth on the first start over fences, the four-year-old has failed to complete on his last two starts over the larger obstacles.

His best effort as a hurdler came when finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle back in May this year but he has not impressed with his technique since going chasing and he looks to have a difficult task once more.

Riviere D’etel 7/4

Owners Bective Stud has some smart prospects on their hands this year including four-year-old RIVIERE D’ETEL who has seriously impressed since switching disciplines and has now registered three effortless wins over fences for trainer Gordon Elliot.

The filly remains unbeaten since going chasing and after sauntering to success in a Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse in October, Gordon Elliot’s charge took a useful scalp in Cape Gentleman when landing Grade 2 honours at Punchestown after making all and jumping impeccably under Dennis O’Regan.

Riviere D’etel found a suitable opportunity to take a Grade 3 prize at Navan earlier this month when again putting in an assured round of jumping and justifying cramped odds by 12l. Connections will be confident she can remain unbeaten and add a Grade 1 to her CV before being aimed at the Mares Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022. 

Big Race Verdict 

This is set to be a huge clash between the Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot pair with a preference for FERNY HOLLOW who has Grade 1 winning form to his name already and has defeated some smart types in the past including Appreciate It and Bob Olinger. He will have learnt plenty after that initial chasing success earlier this month and connections will expect him to make up for lost time and take high rank over the larger obstacles this campaign.