Five Dublin Festival eyecatchers – Top performances from a top-class weekend

With the 2020 Dublin Festival now behind us, we revisit the two-day spectacle and pick out five Dublin Festival eyecatchers who could pitch up at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Last weekend saw a fantastic two-day Dublin Festival go to post where eight Grade One races unfolded over the course of the meeting. There were plenty of potential Cheltenham Festival aspirants in action across the weekend with several top performances.

Notwithstanding some classy performances from the likes of Chacun Pour Soi, Notebook, Honeysuckle, Faugheen and Delta Work who all cemented their Cheltenham Festival claims, there were plenty of notable performances across the two days and fifteen races that went to post and Brian Healy picks out five Dublin Festival eyecatchers who could pitch up at Cheltenham in March.


COBBLER’S WAY (33/1, Paddy Power – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)

CASH BACK (7/1, Coral – Arkle Novices’ Chase)

APPRECIATE IT (9/4, Bet365 – Champion Bumper)

A WAVE OF THE SEA (16/1, Bet365 – Triumph Hurdle)

POLITESSE (25/1, Bet365 – Champion Bumper)


COBBLER’S WAY (Henry de Bromhead)

The opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival kicked off with a Grade One contest where several possible Albert Bartlett Hurdle contenders lined up. While Latest Exhibition ran out a good winner, the performance of runner-up COBBLER’S WAY was a notable eye-catcher despite meeting with defeat.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge set out to make all the running over the 2m6f trip and his chances looked to be cooked when the winner and the eventual third both loomed upsides appearing to be going better.

However, he dug deep to rally and get back up to deny Longhouse Poet the silver medal although he was no match for the winner who was a deserving winner.

That was only his third run, but he has shown good form in all three starts over timber to date. He could well pitch up at Cheltenham in either the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and likely still an improving sort he could have more to offer.

Cobbler's Way was a Dublin Festival eyecatcher.

Cobbler’s Way was a Dublin Festival eyecatcher.

CASH BACK (Willie Mullins)

While Notebook cemented his Arkle Chase claims with another success, the performance of CASH BACK caught the eye as the only one to really serve up any sort of challenge to Henry de Bromhead’s star.

Having set out to make all and turn the race into a true test, he quickly dropped all bar Notebook from the third last fence where the pair fought out a decent finish to the race. The Linda’s Lad gelding stuck well to his task although he didn’t quite have the guns to shoot down the Arkle favourite.

He had been impressive in his two previous chase starts at Navan and Naas respectively, and there’s surely more to come from him. Whether he’d be good enough to reverse Leopardstown form with Notebook at Cheltenham is certainly debatabe; but he’s likely to give it a very good go if turning out in Tuesday’s second Grade One contest.

APPRECIATE IT (Willie Mullins)

Considering the abundance of riches at Willie Mullins’ yard, APPRECIATE IT was a relatively modest purchase by comparison to some of the Closutton handler’s bigger names; but the Jeremy gelding demolished a strong field of rivals to win Saturday’s closing Grade Two bumper.

A winner between the flags, he had finished third at Fairyhouse on his first outing for Mullins following more than 620 days off the track, after which he has won both starts at Leopardstown.

Always travelling strongly he quickened up really nicely when asked to win the race and he looked strong at the finish as he coasted home by an easy six lengths from some well-regarded types.

The Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival will likely now be his next target where he’d join an already-powerful lineup for the Irish handler who has won the Festival Bumper on nine occasions and he currently heads the betting for Wednesday’s Festival finale.

Willie Mullins saddled a few eyecatching sorts at the Dublin Festival.

Trainer Willie Mullins looks to have another good one in Appreciate It.

A WAVE OF THE SEA (Joseph O’Brien)

The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is often a good pointer to the Triumph Hurdle and while A WAVE OF THE SEA looked booked for second until the fall of Aspire Tower at the last, he was in the process of posting a really good run.

Held up early, he made good late headway before challenging over the last, keeping on strongly to deny Wolf Prince and stablemate Cerberus on the run to the line.

Despite being hard-ridden by Rachael Blackmore, there is a feeling Aspire Tower would have done enough to win had Henry de Bromhead’s charge not crumpled on landing; but Barry Geraghty galvanised his mount after the last to finish with a real flourish and grab the spoils.

The Triumph Hurdle could well play to his strengths with a fierce pace all but guaranteed and they certainly weren’t hanging about on Sunday so a strongly-run race in Friday’s juvenile championship could see him go well.

POLITESSE (Lorna Fowler)

Lorna Fowler might not be a household name, but POLITESSE certainly put the Meath handler on the map with an eyecatching runner-up effort in Sunday’s closing Grade Two bumper contest where she finished four lengths behind Gordon Elliott’s Darling Daughter.

That was just the second career outing for the daughter of Beat Hollow who looked a very useful recruit and there could be plenty more to come from her in time.

She had looked beaten but rallied well under pressure and made good late headway to finish off the race strongly. That performance probably wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by some of racing’s big guns who might be tempted to put in a bid.

Her participation in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper isn’t confirmed; but she would have claims if she were to pitch up in the Wednesday feature.