Paul Callaghan’s Dublin Racing Festival Tips – Leopardstown – Saturday 6th February
Former jockey turned broadcaster Paul Callaghan previews Saturday’s Grade One races at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
1.05 Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2 miles 6 furlongs 33 yards.
With 13 novices facing the starter in the opener of this year’s Dublin Racing Festival, this is going to be a fact-finding mission for the majority of connections.
I like Gentlemansgame for owner Robcour, trainer Mouse Morris and BoyleSports’ Horse Racing ambassador, jockey Robbie Power. After winning his point-to-point, he was bought by connections for €250,000.
He was very impressive when winning on hurdling debut under Rachael Blackmore at Cork on the 2nd of January. Gentlemansgame and Gjoumi (who was sent off 8/11fav), dictated the pace from the run to the third hurdle. Gjoumi tired to finish third, while Gentlemansgame galloped to an impressive 21 length victory.
My slight concern would be that victory was over 2 miles, and this is a significant step up in Grade and trip. Rachael Blackmore tried to drop in Gentlemansgame, but he raced and jumped exuberantly over the first two hurdles, that she had little option but to let the dashing grey stride on.
His jumping wasn’t as slick while at the head of affairs, so I’d imagine in the anticipated testing ground over almost one mile further, there won’t be a lot of pace on early.
If Gentlemansgame finds himself in front early on, he will need to jump a lot sharper. He is obviously held in high regard and after watching him on racecourse debut, I can see why.
He looks a horse with huge potential, and I’m taking a chance that he will have come on a lot from that run at Cork.
Of the others, Gaillard Du Mesnil is sure to be popular for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, after his impressive victory at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.
Ashdale Bob, who is the highest rated in the race, of those who have a handicap mark, is of interest. I’d imagine (though cannot confirm) that Robbie Power had the choice to ride one or two in this race, and the fact that his name doesn’t appear next to Ashdale Bob is off-putting.
That being said, Ashdale Bob unfortunately fell at the second hurdle in a Grade 1 contest at Naas on his last start. Prior to that, he was an impressive winner of a Grade 2 contest at Navan on the 18th of December.
Despite pulling hard early on, he found plenty for pressure from the landing side of the second last to the line. A couple of the fancied runners in that race failed to run their race but Ashdale Bob had no right to find like he did, having raced so freely.
He looks a little buzzy, but if or when he learns to settle and conserve more energy he will surely find more improvement.
I could easily mention four or five more, but I won’t! It’s Gentlemansgame for me in a race that could turn into one of the races of the festival.
1.35 Dublin Chase (Grade 1) over 2 miles 1 furlong 57 yards.
I think this will be a fairly straightforward victory for Chacun Pour Soi, who beat Min in this race last year.
He’s impressed on both starts this season and I think he actually looked better at Christmas when he beat Notebook by a little over 6 lengths.
I hope we are going to pause for thought, rubbing our hands at the prospects of a clash in the Champion Chase for Chacun Pour Soi next month against Altior, First Flow and current 2 mile champion Politologue shortly after 1.35 on Saturday afternoon.
2.10 Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1) over 2 miles 1 furlong 57 yards.
Energumene has looked pretty special in his two winning starts over fences. He was very good when scoring at Naas on his latest outing.
For a big horse, he is very neat and quick at his fences, and I was particularly impressed by the way he quickened from the landing side of the last fence to the winning line at Naas, to put a little over 8 lengths between himself and Captain Guinness.
I think the testing ground will also play to his strengths as well as being a downfall for a number of his rivals.
Franco De Port spearheads the list of dangers, and I would fancy Darver Star to run a huge race if the ground dries out.
3.15 Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2 miles.
I think Honeysuckle will gallop to her second success of this race in as many years, and I think if she does collect, that will almost force connections to go the Champion hurdle route.
Despite being slow over her hurdles in this race last year, she still won. She’s a year older and should be that bit wiser.
I expect Honeysuckle to be a lot sharper in the jumping department here.
I fancy Abacadabras to give the selection most to think about.
4.25 Leopardstown – Chemical Energy
He is 2 from 2. Was given an educational ride when scoring at Down Royal on his last start. Will improve. Kilcruit will be difficult to beat but a slight preference is for Chemical Energy.
*Prices correct at time of publication