By Luke Keena(@lukekeena1)
Racing over the festive period at Leopardstown gets underway on Saturday with an exciting seven race card. My first selection comes in the second race, the Thorntons Recycling Maiden hurdle over two miles. I like the Gordon Elliot trained Wide Receiver. He has had three runs over hurdles of late, just failing to get his head in front on each occasion. On his last outing he was bet by Ashdale Bob who has since franked the form, winning a Grade 2 at Navan last Friday by six lenghts. Wide Receiver was let down on that occasion when making too many mistakes at his obstacles and was only bet by a lenght. If he can jump more professionally and make less mistakes I think he will take a lot of beating and make it fourth time lucky over hurdles.
The Holden Plant Rentals Novice Handicap Hurdle off at 1:40 looks a very competitive race with lots of unexposed horses. One Cool Poets looks to have been primed for this race after some ok runs on the flat, if he can transfer his form on the flat to hurdles he will take plenty of beating. The one I like is Envious Editor for the Gordon Elliot team. He has had the four runs in Maidens this season finishing in the money each time. The form of his penultimate start looks very solid. The winner Gabynako, has since finished third to Ashdale Bob at Navan in the Grade two last week and the third has also came out and won a maiden hurdle comfortably in Down Royal. Even the fifth, Free Thought has since won a maiden hurdle. While his form last year in handicaps is nothing to get excited about, he seems a better horse this year. I think his mark of 118 is reasonable and I think he will run very well at 8/1.
The feature race on Day 1 of the Christmas Festival is the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase over two miles and one furlong. Felix Desjy is the favourite and a very worthy one in my opinion. The form of his last run is very strong, and he won despite jumping to his left early in the race. The second Sizing Pottsie has since bolted up in a competitive handicap at Fairyhouse. Darver Star was third on that day and looked to be outpaced and I would struggle to see him reversing the form. Felix Desjy will be suited by returning to a left handed track and I think he will take a lot of beating.
The penultimate race on the card is the Bet Through The Free Racing Post App Handicap Chase over two miles and one furlong. A Wave Of The Sea catches my eye off a mark of 133, and also gets the four year old allowance. He won his Beginners Chase at Kilbeggan in September beating an average field well. After that he went on to finish third in a Novice chase at Punchestown, with Popong back in fourth on that occasion. His jumping let him down the last day and was bet out of sight by Felix Desjy. I would put a line through that run and expect a lot better here. He is a few pounds well in on his hurdles form and if he can jump more fluently I think he can go close at 15/2.