By Luke (@lukekeena1)
The feature race of the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown is the Grade one Savills Chase over three miles. Nine runners head to post for this ultra competitive race. Kemboy was in the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier in the season, but thankfully the issue was resolved and he is able to take part in this race. As a result of the issues with the Supreme Racing Club he missed his early season target of the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in November. I would worry that the lack of race fitness might catch him out.
Road To Respect won the aforementioned Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal. He bet Clan Des Obeaux by four lengths. Clan Des Obeaux has since won the King George at Kempton impressively. Road To Respect came out on the losing side of a great battle in the Irish Gold Cup last year. He fought out the finish with Bellshill, and lost by a short head. He has never been out of the first three at Leopardstown. He won this race two seasons ago when getting the better of Balko Des Flos in the closing stages. He will enjoy returning to Leopardstown and should go close.
Delta Work was disappointing last time out when finishing fourth behind Road To Respect beaten fifteen lengths. I don’t think that was his true running. Coming into this season he was as exciting as any novice stepping into open Grade ones. He was very impressive at the back end of last season winning at Punchestown. Beating Discorama by twelve lengths and it was a further two lengths back to A Plus Tard. I think if he bounces back to his best he will be in the mix.
Presenting Percy had the world at his feet after winning the RSA in 2018. The good weather last year hindered his preparation for the Gold Cup when he didn’t run his race and came back lame. He made a very nice reappearance in Punchestown over an inadequate trip. He finished a close third behind the talented Min. He is a horse I really like and I think he will go very close with Davy Russell in the saddle.
The aforementioned Bellshill was last years Irish Gold Cup winner. Since then he ran below par in the Gold Cup when pulled up after some bad jumping mistakes. He then disappointed at Punchestown when finishing fourth behind Kemboy. He is better going left handed and Leopardstown plays to his strength. He comes into this race without a recent run. He finished fourth in this race last year behind Kemboy. I think he will struggle to do better this year.
Monalee finished runner up in this race twelve months ago behind Kemboy. He then went on to finish fourth in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival in March before disappointing at Punchestown. He made his seasonal reappearance at Clonmel finishing third behind Douvan beaten a long way. I’m a big fan of the horse but that was disappointing. He will need to come on a lot for the run to be involved. He runs for the inform combination of Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did.
If Balko Des Flos was to bounce back to his form of two years ago his price of 50/1 could be silly. That season he won the Ryanair at Cheltenham and was a close second in this race behind Road To Respect. He is only eight and is also trained by Henry De Bromhead. He has been disappointing this season but a return to his best would see him run well with Mark Walsh in the saddle.
Anibale Fly was beaten by a wide margin at Puchestown last time. His best form seems to come at Cheltenham in the stamina test that is the Gold Cup. He has also got form in the National at Aintree, I think he needs a stronger stamina test than this to get involved.
Luke- Presenting Percy/ Balko Des Flos ew
Killian- Presenting Percy
Samantha- Road To Respect/ Kemboy
The other Grade One on the card is the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle over three miles. Seven runners head to post for this interesting contest.
The best place to start is with the favourite Bacardys who was impressive on seasonal reappearance when beating Apple’s Jade at Navan in November. In the Hatton’s Grace he was no match for Honeysuckle with Apple’s Jade four lengths behind him. He is a worthy favourite
For some unknown reason Apple’s Jade has been running below her best this season. She has been behind Bacardys twice this season and not shown her old spark. She won the last two running of this race. Winning in a thrilling finish in 2017 fighting back gamely to beat Supasundae. She has not shown anything near that form this year. She will need to bounce back to her best but if she does she will go close.
Penhill finished sixth on seasonal debut after over a year and a half off the track so he was entitled to need the run. He is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner. He won the Albert Bartlet and the Stayer Hurdle. He is a high class performer on his day and I think he will go very close with Robbie Power in the saddle
Tote Supporting Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle- 12:15
At one stage Jon Snow was this unknown horse for Willie Mullins that headed the Supreme market before even hitting the track. He made his eagerly anticipated debut and finished third in a good maiden hurdle at Cork. Front View won that race and has form that ties in with Envoi Allen. Uhtred was an impressive winner of a bumper race at Navan earlier this month. Jon Snow steps up in trip and I think he will take a lot of beating.
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle-12:50
Ronald Pump returns to hurdles after running two good race over fences. He won his Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse and was a distant second in the Grade One Drinmore at Fairyhouse last time out. Last season he done nothing but improve rising from a mark of 102 up to his current handicap mark of 145. He likes to sit out the back and creep his way through the field. I think the race will set up nicely for him and he can go close at a double figure price.
Ballymaloe Foods Beginners Chase- 1:25
Allaho makes his chase debut after a nice Novice Hurdle campaign. He was placed in Grade ones at Punchestown and Cheltenham behind Minella Indo on both occasions. He looks like he will be better again over fences which could bring him to the top. He will relish the trip and I think he will be hard to beat with Paul Townend in the saddle.
Irish Daily Star Christmas Hurdle- 2:35
The Church Gate made his seasonal reappearance at Navan when he finished a decent fourth, a nice prep run for this race. He won this race last year off an eleven pound lower mark. He will relish the conditions and I think he will go close with Keith Donoghue in the saddle.