Lord Ready For Leopardstown – Weekend Review

While March’s Cheltenham Festival is often viewed as the “main” target for a number of star names during the first half of the season…

…the upcoming festive period also hosts a number of big prizes up for grabs, and there were several runners last weekend who could be on course for such events.

Lord Windermere
One of those to have advertised his claims for a big Christmas prize was Jim Culloty’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner from last season, Lord Windermere, who ran creditably to finish third in the Grade 1 Punchestown Chase on Sunday over a trip short of his best.

Just done for speed on his seasonal return, this outing will have done him the world of good and he should be a lot sharper in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas

…where he is currently a tempting 10/1 chance. Some may be put off by the fact Lord Windermere was beaten 11l by Bobs Worth (7/2 for the Lexus) in the same race 12 months ago, but he clearly wasn’t right – as was proven when well beaten next time (prior to Cheltenham) – and should be trained to the minute come Leopardstown on December 28.

Boston Bob
Lord Windermere will also cross swords once more with Sunday’s runner-up, Boston Bob, who was 1/2l in front at Punchestown and is half the price for the Lexus at 5/1. Boston Bob could also head for the Irish Hennessy, however, but last year’s Punchestown Gold Cup winner clearly stepped up on his below-par return and looks set for another good season.

Don Cossack
As for Sunday’s winner, Don Cossack, then he may not be seen at Christmas, as he could head straight for Cheltenham in March where he is 8/1 for the Ryanair Chase. With three outings under his belt already this term, connections clearly want him to be fresh for Cheltenham in March, though his price is not one to be steaming into at present.

Willie Mullins
At Cork on Saturday, the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase went to Willie Mullins’ Felix Yonger. With the 2m division fairly open this season (Sprinter Sacre currently on the sidelines), he could be in for a decent year, while another with a good future this season is stablemate, Vroum Vroum Mag. This 5yo mare looks to be going places having made it 2-2 in chases, and her crisp jumping should put her in good stead for tougher assignments to come.

Paul Nicholls
On the subject of the 2m chase division this season, Paul Nicholls’ Dodging Bullets, threw his hat into the ring following his success in Saturday’s Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase and is now 12/1 for Cheltenham’s Queen Mother Chase. Nicholls was also on the Sandown scoresheet with Vibrato Valtat in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’, who put a much improved display following a breathing problem last year. Reportedly maturer this season, he remains interesting at 20/1 for the Arkle.

A mention also goes to Oscar Time, who won Aintree’s Becher Chase, having previously been placed twice in the Grand National. He clearly loves the Merseyside course and is 50/1 to win the big one in April.