Leading fancies Apple's Jade, Supasundae and Melon are among a final field of six runners for the Grade 1 BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle. That marks the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown tomorrow.
Heading the line-up of 10 runners for Sunday’s Unibet Irish Gold Cup are market leaders Road To Respect, Al Boum Photo and Bellshill. The trio are just some of the game’s biggest names on show at the two-day extravaganza.
Opposition to the big three in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle comes in the shape of the 2017 winner Petit Mouchoir and the Gordon Elliott-trained Farclas and Tombstone. Meanwhile, the likes of last year’s victor Edwulf, the Henry De Bromhead-trained Monalee and Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly are others vying for success in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup.
The Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle on Saturday is the first of festival’s eight Grade 1 races. 16 horses are going forward. They include Pat Fahy’s Dunvegan, the Willie Mullins-trained Salsaretta and Relegate and Gordon Elliott’s Commander Of Fleet.
Six runners are on target for the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. Last year’s winner Min and runner-up Simply Ned represent Willie Mullins and Nicky Richards respectively while the Harry Whittington-trained Saint Calvados is a second cross-channel raider. A classy renewal of the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase is on the cards with the Joseph O'Brien-trained Le Richebourg, the Gary Moore-trained Knocknanuss and Terence O’Brien’s Articulum among the eight declarations.
The first of Sunday’s four Grade 1 races is the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Old rivals Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap, trained by Joseph O'Brien and Willie Mullins respectively, are among the 11 horses declared. The Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle has a field of nine runners. They include Gordon Elliott’s Vision D’honneur and the Mullins-trained Aramon and Klassical Dream.
The Warren Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi faces a strong home team headed by Grade 1 winners Delta Work and Hardline, and the Aidan Howard-trained Winter Escape in the Flogas Novice Chase for which eight will go to post.
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said, “We have been waiting for a year for the Dublin Racing Festival to come around. The excitement has really been building for the past few weeks and it looks like we are going to have two wonderful days to remember. The weather appears to be finally playing its part too.”
You can watch our full Dublin Racing Festival preview: