Irish Eyes: Grab Festive Jewel
Leopardstown at Christmas conjures up images of stars both from the world of racing and the wider world!
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In addition to the watching the very best National Hunt horses, trainers and jockeys ply their trade, punters can expect to rub shoulders with stars from the world of sport and music. Various members of the reigning European Rugby Champions Leinster will be in attendance while the likes of Bono is also regular visitor to the Foxrock venue over the Christmas period.
Moving on, it's winners we need!
Leopardstown offers plenty of top opportunities but the best bet on the card is Blood Cotil. Our Conor, winner of a Grade 3 on his last start is the forecast favourite for this Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle but Blood Cotil arguably deserves to be joint-favourite at least and is the horse to be on here.
The race of the day will be the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase where Arvika Ligeonniere will no doubt start favourite over Oscars Well. These pair are the best two novice chasers in Ireland over shorter trips and this will be a race to savour. That being said, Oscars Well, although outsider of the two, is the value here.
Meanwhile there are excellent cards at Limerick and Down Royal on St. Stephens Day as well.
Last seasons Cheltenham Foxhunters Chase winner Salsify makes the long journey up from Cork to Down Royal in order to contest the opening Hunters Chase but the best bet of the meeting has to be Fickle Fortune in the two mile maiden hurdle.
Already a winner over course and distance in a bumper, Noel Meade's mare finished second in a Listed bumper at Navan before filling the same spot on her hurdling debut at Navan behind Un Atout. There are no horses of that calibre to beat here and she should take this at her ease.
At Limerick, Mikael d'Haguenet is easily the best horse in the Grade 2 Novice Chase, won last year by his stablemate Sir Des Champs. However one will never get rich backing Mickael d'Haguenet - already been beaten favourite six times (including twice when odds-on), but he's had more that his fair share of bad luck, to be fair.
Consequently the nap instead falls with Jennies Jewel in the two mile three furlong maiden hurdle. She stands out in this field having run second (admittedly beaten thirteen lengths) to Pride Ofthe Parish at Punchestown last time out. Her main rival on Wednesday, Futuramic, finished third that day but that was his fifth hurdle start whereas it was our selections first ever hurdle run, so she can be expected to improve and prove the best bet at Limerick.
Boxing Day selections:
The nap for the rest of the week is Flemenstar on Friday. He was fantastic when beating Sir Des Champs in the John Durkan Memorial Chase over two and a half miles last time out. That was Sir Des Champs seasonal debut and he will no doubt prove better over this three mile trip. Some have doubts over whether Flemenstar can stay three miles. I've already stated convulsively in previous columns why there is no doubt Flemenstar will stay the Lexus trip and having recommended him when he was a 9/4 shot, I'm not changing my mind now. Have no doubt, this will prove a very decent Lexus Chase field, but Flemenstar is special and his jumping is a joy to behold. I expect him to overtake Bobs Worth as clear favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after this race.
On Thursday, Sizing Europe looks a class apart in the Dial-A-Bet Chase but is currently an odds-on shot. Big Zeb however is currently available at 12/1 and he is worth an each-way flutter bet at that price. I don't expect him to beat Sizing Europe but he is overpriced for a place.
Gates Of Rome is a hopeful selection for the extended three mile Power Chase at Leopardstown (33/1 Skybet). Colm Murphy's charge is far from an obvious choice. He was most unreliable as a novice last year, and having fallen twice, it actually took him ten runs to break his duck over fences! He has also unseated his rider this season as well but ran reasonably well over hurdles on his last start which will hopefully have given him back some confidence and put him right for a crack at this €190,000 pot. If he can get his jumping together, this son of Luso will relish the trip under a feather weight. He has always promised to win a race of this calibre, going back to his novice hurdling days, and he could finally come good here.
Should Our Vinnie take his place in Fridays Grade 3 Novice Hurdle at Limerick, he will be difficult to beat and gets the vote as 'next best' selection. Our Vinnie was arguably unlucky at Cheltenham and then battled well to beat Rule The World and Busty Brown at Cork, both of whom have subsequently franked the form. Reine Angevine will be his biggest danger and should she be declared I would half my bet, given the weight she's getting from him.
Nap: Flemenstar, Lexus Chase, Leopardstown,
Friday Next Best: Our Vinnie, Limerick, Friday.
E/W Selection: Gates Of Rome, Power Chase, Leopardstown, Thursday.