Leopardstown race-by-race tips – Selections for day four of the Christmas Festival

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets for the fourth and final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Sunday sees the concluding day of another fantastic Leopardstown Christmas Festival meeting, and the day four racecard closes with a pair of Grade One contests headed by the Neville Hotels Novice Chase on a seven-race card.

Also featuring the Matheson Hurdle as well as some competitive handicap action, it is sure to be another not-to-be-missed afternoon at the Premier Irish venue.

12:10 – Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase (4yo+ 0-123) 2m5f
12:45 – Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle (5yo+) 2m4½f
1:20 – Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo+) 2m4½f
1:55 – Neville Hotels Novice Chase (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m
2:30 – Matheson Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m
3:05 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-130) 2m4½f
3:40 – O’Driscoll O’Neil Insurance Brokers INH Flat Race (4-7yo) 2m

Brian Healy assesses the final day racecard for the 2019 Leopardstown Christmas Festival and gives his race-by-race selections for a top-class fixture.

12:10 – Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase (4yo+ 0-123) 2m5f

ONEFORTHEROADTOM (SP) was a shade disappointing at Cheltenham earlier in the month behind Cogry in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, but Harry Fry’s charge could be worth giving another chance to on the strength of his earlier runs which includes when finishing runner-up to Heron Heights at Punchestown in May.

The Fair Mix gelding made a very encouraging comeback from a break to finish fourth at Cheltenham in October where he was racing from out of the weights behind The Conditional where he was only beaten around six lengths; but he wasn’t able to build on that outing latest when finishing fifth and beaten almost twenty lengths.

The handicapper has dropped him back to the mark from which he posted his runner-up effort in May, and he has a good 4lbs claimer up for this assignment so he might be worth chancing to bounce back from his lesser effort last time.

Trainer Harry Fry sends Onefortheroadtom to Leopardstown on Sunday.

12:45 – Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle (5yo+) 2m4½f

Willie Mullins saddles a couple of interesting contenders in this race, but it could be worth siding with Henry de Bromhead’s COBBLER’S WAY (SP) to get back on the scoresheet having won a Limerick bumper twelve months ago, and the Oscar gelding found only the high-class Andy Dufresne too strong on his hurdles debut at Navan last month.

Although beaten around ten lengths, he in turn finished clear of the rest and the form looks very decent with the winner since making the frame in a Grade Two contest, while the third next time out and also made the frame in a Grade Three contest.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead has won this race three times in recent seasons, but he ought to improve for the experience gained from that first appearance over hurdles and he can go one better here under Rachael Blackmore.

1:20 – Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo+) 2m4½f

Willie Mullins saddles four in this contest, and while stable jockey Paul Townend sides with recent Listed hurdle winner Stormy Ireland, it could be worth siding with one of the other Closutton runners in ELFILE (SP) to extend her winning run to 3-3 for the season.

The Saint Des Saints mare finished sixth behind the reopposing Eglantine De Seuil from their meeting in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March; but she subsequently found only Honeysuckle too good in a Grade One at Fairyhouse in April, and she got back on the winning trail when successful in Listed company at Punchestown in May. She had also got off the mark at the same course on her hurdles debut, beating Black Tears who also reopposes here and chased home Stormy Ireland last time out.

She made a winning reappearance when gaining a narrow verdict over another of today’s rivals in My Sister Sarah, scoring by a half-length, and she ought to strip fitter for that reapperance while a return to this longer trip looks in her favour so every chance she can continue to show improvement and extend her winning run.

Trainer Willie Mullins saddles four in Sunday’s Grade Three contest.

1:55 – Neville Hotels Novice Chase (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m

Gordon Elliott has won three of the last four renewals of this race, most recently with Delta Work twelve months ago, and a strong renewal of this contest sees a trio of Grade One winning hurdlers lock horns.

Minella Indo won the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and Henry de Bromhead’s charge made a promising start to his chase career behind Laurina; but BATTLEOVERDOYEN (6/4, Coral) is 2-2 over fences, and the Doyen gelding can continue his progression here to make it a hat-trick of wins over fences.

A three-time winner last season in bumpers and hurdles, including the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Hurdle, he was disappointingly pulled up in the Ballymore Hurdle at the Festival; but he has bounced back to readily score chase successes at Galway and Punchestown respectively, beating Any Second Now by five lengths to win the Florida Pearl Chase latest.

He looks sure to improve further with this step up likely to suit, and proven in softer conditions he can continue his progression over the larger obstacles to strike again.

2:30 – Matheson Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m

KLASSICAL DREAM (6/5, William Hill) went from strength to strength over hurdles last term, winning a trio of Grade One contests which included the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Champion Novice Hurdle during the Punchestown equivalent, and Willie Mullins’ charge can get back on track here having disappointed on his reappearance.

The Dream Well gelding pulled too hard and raced too keenly for his own good when making his seasonal debut in the recent Morgiana Hurdle back at Punchestown, and he faded into third behind Saldier once headed jumping the last hurdle.

That was his first defeat since joining the County Carlow trainer from France, but he is sure to strip fitter for that reappearance, and if settling better this time around ought to take plenty of beating time around where he can reverse that Morgiana form with Petit Mouchoir who finished ahead of him in the runner-up berth.

With soft ground no issue, he should prove a tough nut to crack here if stepping up on that reappearance, and he can resume winning ways.

Klassical Dream

Klassical Dream can get back on the winning trail in Sunday’s Grade One feature at Leopardstown.

3:05 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-130) 2m4½f

FLOORING PORTER (SP) has shown improvement in recent starts, winning two of his last three outings at Bellewstown and Cork latterly, and Gavin Cromwell’s charge can strike again here.

The Yeats gelding latterly ran out a three lengths’ winner over Double Windsor back in October, showing the longer trip to be no problem as he won a shade comfortably, and there could be better to come from him with the drop in distance this time around unlikely to faze him.

The assessor has hit him hard for that success which was his first in a handicap, but having showed improved form in the tongue-tie last time, he looks to hold solid claims of a follow-up assuming the headgear has the same effect, and he can defy his new mark to score again for last year’s winning yard..

3:40 – O’Driscoll O’Neil Insurance Brokers INH Flat Race (4-7yo) 2m

ERIC BLOODAXE (SP) routed a well-regarded Willie Mullins horse when making a winning introduction at Fairyhouse earlier in the month, and the Saint Des Saints gelding can follow up here given he is open to plenty of improvement.

Joseph O’Brien’s charge sauntered clear to score a near-three lengths’ success over Ferny Hollow, finding plenty and appearing to win a shade in hand over a good field of rivals, and he can show the benefit of that first experience to follow up here.

The third horse home in that race held his own for a long way in another decent contest on this card earlier in the week, and with the potential for better to come he can make it 2-2 in a race which could boil into a match between him and fellow Gigginstown runner Wide Receiver.


12:45 – COBBLER’S WAY (SP)
1:20 – ELFILE (SP)
1:55 – BATTLEOVERDOYEN (6/4, Coral)
2:30 – KLASSICAL DREAM (6/5, William Hill)