2020 Dublin Racing Festival tips – Five ante-post bets for Leopardstown’s wonderful weekend

Jon Vine takes a look through the ante-post betting for the major races at the Dublin Racing Festival and highlights five horses to back at Leopardstown.

Since it’s creation a couple of years ago, the Dublin Racing Festival has proven a brilliant addition to the Irish National Hunt calendar. Over the course of the weekend, eight Grade One honours will be handed out, including the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Dublin Chase and the prestigious Irish Gold Cup.

The ante-post markets for many of the feature races during the Dublin Racing Festival have now opened, and I’ve cast my eye through each of them to try and find some value. Here are five horses you should back ante-post to win at the Dublin Racing Festival.

2020 Dublin Racing Festival Ante-Post Tips

The Arkle looks to be Ireland’s for the taking at this year’s Cheltenham Festival a thrilling battle could ensue here, as the top two from the Arkle Trial on Boxing Day look set to renew rivalries. Notebook outjumped FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES (2/1 Ladbrokes) on that occasion to claim a deserved Grade One victory. While it’s hard to see how Henry De Bromhead’s charge improves on that display, I feel Fakir D’Oudairies has plenty more to give and I’m siding with Joseph O’Brien’s chaser to reverse the form from Christmas.

On his opening two starts over fences, Fakir D’Oudairies bowled along at the front, jumping his rivals into submission. On Boxing Day, Mark Walsh’s mount was a little keen before the off and seemed reluctant to pick up the bit, sitting a decent way off the pace as Djingle burst into an early lead. Fakir D’Oudairies’ jumping wasn’t nearly as slick as it had been in the Drinmore, and was even ridden away from a few flights down the back-straight as Walsh asked his mount to latch onto Notebook’s coattails.

Rounding the bend, Walsh found himself boxed in on the rail and contact with Royal Rendezvous caused Walsh to lose an iron on the crucial run to the second-last. While his rider recovered his iron quickly, Fakir D’Oudairies couldn’t eat into Notebooks’ advantage and succumbed to a narrow defeat.

True, Notebook won when giving his younger rival seven pounds, and the gap between the two will be two pounds smaller this time around. However, the prospect of soft ground thrusts the ball firmly into Fakir D’Oudairies’ court and Mark Walsh will be keen to make amends.

With reigning and defending two-time champion, Min sitting down the betting on 6/1, it looks highly likely that this year’s Dublin Chase will stage another thrilling battle between Chacun Pour Soi and A PLUS TARD (9/4 Coral). Henry De Bromhead’s charge ground out a convincing victory over his rival when they met over Christmas and, if they do indeed square off again, I’d be keen to side with A Plus Tard to pull off a similar feat.

Great Field and Cadmium ensured that Grade One was run at a furious gallop. The overall time of the race was seven seconds quicker than the novice contest won by Notebook, which was staged on quicker ground the previous day. Chacun Pour Soi grabbed the rail on the turn for home, but couldn’t quicken clear of A Plus Tard, who utilised his staying ability and pulled away from his rival after jumping the last.

I’m sure Willie Mullins will be keen for a slower early pace, in the hope that Chacun Pour Soi’s superior turn of foot will come into full effect in the closing stages of the race. However, Mullins’ market leader is a fragile sort and doesn’t appeal much sitting on 11/8, having been beaten fair-and-square over Christmas. Another victory at the Dublin Racing Festival would surely force De Bromhead’s hand, and throw A Plus Tard into the Queen Mother, instead of the Ryanair at Cheltenham.

Aspire Tower bolts up at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Rayapour, who ran up to an RPR of 101 on his final start on the flat at home in France, would be an interesting debutante for Willie Mullins. I, however, would be loathed to side against ASPIRE TOWER (4/5 William Hill) after his devastating victory over Christmas, and Henry De Bromhead’s charge still holds value sitting on 4/5.

Having made all to win on his first start over hurdles at Punchestown, Rachael Blackmore adopted identical tactics in the Frank Knight here at Leopardstown. Aspire Tower never saw another rival, hacking up in eye-catching fashion to secure an emphatic, 18-length success.

The runner-up that day, Wolf Prince has since come out and won a decent race at Fairyhouse, so you have to take Aspire Tower’s performance in that Grade Two very seriously. After winning this Grade One, he could be as short as 3/1 to win the Triumph Hurdle in March. You can even get 11/1 about Aspire Tower completing the Leopardstown, Cheltenham double – a price which could look extremely long after this year’s Spring Juvenile.

As Envoi Allen shortened at the head of the Ballymore betting, Abacadabras was clipped into 9/2 solo-favouritism at the top of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting. While it seems he will be Gordon Elliott’s first-string in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival, Abacadabras’ performance in the Future Champions over Christmas didn’t convince me that he is a top-class two-miler.

You don’t have to look too far to find an alternative in the Chanelle Pharma, as Elliott has also handed stablemate EASYWORK (13/2 Paddy Power) an entry in this Grade One, having preferred Andy Dufresne to run in the Moscow Flyer. Easywork caught the eye when bolting up in a bumper at Down Royal in November, and did exactly what was asked of him on his hurdles debut three weeks later, making all to beat future winner Mt Leinster in comfortable fashion.

Easywork then lowered the colours on Unexcepted in devastating fashion at Limerick on Boxing Day, surging clear of the short-priced favourite to secure an impressive 22-length victory. Although that win came over two-and-a-half miles, Easywork should have no trouble at all dropping back to the minimum distance and I think he could be a sleeper in both the Chanelle Pharma and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Kemboy ridden by David Mullins jumps the last to win The Savills Chase in 2018.

Delta Work bounced back to top form in the Savills Chase, coming through with a well-timed late run to head Monalee and Road To Respect. KEMBOY (15/8 Ladbrokes) faded on the run to the line and eventually finished fourth. It was, however, the performance of a horse who desperately needed the run and, with that outing under his belt, I feel Willie Mullins’ three-time Grade One winner could be very hard to beat.

When winning his Grade Ones last term, Kemboy bullied his rivals from the front. Paul Townend’s mount was first to tackle the opening flight on his return to action, but Mullins’ charge looked very keen and jumped scruffily, gradually losing places as the race progressed. Kemboy had to work hard to get himself back into contention jumping the last, but it was clear soon after landing that the tank was almost empty, and Kemboy couldn’t match Delta Work’s winning charge.

On his second start of the season, I’ll expect to see a much more composed Kemboy. His jumping will be neater and I doubt he will relinquish his prominent pitch so easily. I feel Kemboy is the best horse in the race and he will prove he’s still a live Gold Cup contender at the Dublin Racing Festival.