On Sunday, we’ll be treated to yet another exciting day of racing at Leopardstown, but before we do that, let’s take a moment to go over some of the recommendations we made for the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival.
Things got off to a bad start when it was announced that American Mike would not be running in the first race, and they went from bad to worse when Good Land, the favourite that I was so eager to beat, won the race in convincing fashion.
My bet on Appreciate It in the Irish Arkle was unsuccessful, but it was my favourite. Nevertheless, I botched my attempt to capitalise by picking the wrong Willie Mullins stablemate.
Therefore, today was not the best day, but I am thankful that tomorrow will give me another chance to make up for it. Why don’t we give it a shot?
This time I’m starting with the later selection, for it rates as my strongest fancy of the entire meeting – and that’s GAELIC WARRIOR in the 2m handicap hurdle at 4.10.
I know what you may be thinking. He’s pretty short at 6/4 for a 17-runner handicap where he has the burden of top-weight. Admittedly, that’s usually a horse I would be lining up to oppose, but in this instance I actually think it’s still great value.
I’m pretty sure Gaelic Warrior is a 150+ horse, who could be winning Grade Ones – so his current mark of 143 looks beyond generous to me.
The form of his 86L success on seasonal reappearance at Tramore in early December last year is awful, but his 15L win at Clonmel last time out is much better and given he’s only raced three times for Willie Mullins he’s entitled to continue improving.
I’d go as far as to say I’d be shocked if he’s beat off that mark on Sunday.
A favourite I am going to try and get beat, however, is Mighty Potter in the G1 Novice Chase at 1.40.
To be honest, Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old is difficult to criticise for he’s unbeaten in two starts over fences, with his latest top-level success in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in December representing excellent form.
He has the beating of Gaillard Du Mesnil on that, and I see absolutely no reason why that form should be reversed.
However, I think Willie Mullins’ JAMES DU BERLAIS (11/4) is a bit special and can give the favourite a run for his money.
The seven-year-old son of Muthathir was a high-class French hurdler that moved to Closutton in January 2021, two months before he was pitched into the Champion Hurdle no less on stable debut.
He was well beaten in that, but followed it up with an excellent second in the G1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival behind stablemate Klassical Dream.
After a 612-day lay-off, during which he suffered a setback that saw him miss all of last season, he made his chasing debut at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day and was mightily impressive. Mullins was particularly complimentary of that performance, which is always a tip in itself.
Given the long lay-off and how keen he was that day, I think there’s bags of improvement to come and James Du Berlais can begin to fulfil the lofty reputation he once had and become a Grade One-winning novice chaser who goes into the Cheltenham Festival with a leading chance.
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