It’s the start of the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday and we have three big bets from there, though the best value of the day lies in the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh. Here’s our five to follow for the day:
12.50 Leopardstown (Novice Hurdle – Grade 1) – FURY ROAD
This 2m6f novice hurdle will take some getting, but in Fury Road we have a classy type who has seen out almost three miles on heavy going and at just six years old is improving still.
Fury Road is three from three now and we’re not at the bottom of him yet, so he is taken to confirm his superiority for trainer Gordon Elliott ahead of Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition and Elixir D’ainay for the powerful JP McManus/Willie Mullins combination.
1.25 Leopardstown (Dublin Chase – Grade 1) – CHACUN POUR SOI
He may not be allowed to go off at the biggest price you’ll ever see but Willie Mullins’ Chacun Pour Soi, given his future rival’s penchant for an extra furlong and/or heavier ground, could be the one to take Defi Du Seuil on with in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and so his class is not disputed.
Another contributory factor in having the confidence to back him is that Min still possesses tons of ability and is not ruled out here, though he is very much seen as the owner and trainer’s second-string in the race behind our chap.
Runaway Cheltenham Festival winner A Plus Tard rates pretty highly too, but he’ll need to improve a fair it to get to Paul Townend’s mount.
2.00 Leopardstown (Arkle Novice Chase – Grade 1) – FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES
Joseph O’Brien’s young chaser Fakir D’Oudairies is two from three now over fences in Ireland and, although he was beaten by today’s chief rival Notebook last time out, the thought is that he is so young he can basically only get better and may yet prove to be an Arkle type in March.
He can take a big enough step forward this time, if not allowing his rival the same rope as in the Racing Post Novice Chase, to bridge a length-and-a-half gap and a 2lb pull making him the choice. Bapaume is best of the rest.
2.45 Wetherby (Towton Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – DOMINATEUR
This is a smashing race and I hope it doesn’t get lost in the furore of the racing at Leopardstown. As a Grade 2 novices’ race it is important for the future, but as for the now it seems Dominateur can live up to his name and remain in command of events here.
His last two wins at Chepstow have shown him to be going very much the right way and he can score once more ahead of Boldmere and Ardlethen.
3.15 Musselburgh (Edinburgh National Handicap Chase) – BOB MAHLER
There are almost too many of them to keep track of during the National Hunt season but, despite them being only around 3/1 the field overnight, this race looks as competitive as a ‘National’ should be and the race could be a cracker.
Despite this, there is one in the field that just stands out a little to me and that is Bob Mahler. An eight-year-old arguably just about to reach his peak, he beat today’s hot favourite Little Bruce easily at Cheltenham in the spring and has been placed twice this season in handicaps at Haydock and Doncaster.
His form is sound, but now that he goes right up to beyond four miles we should really see the best of him, something that should be enough to make Adrian Heskin and Warren Greatrex’s trip up worth the miles.
As for the remainder, it would be no shock to see Arthur’s Gift run very well and into the places perhaps, while in a competitive heat the likes of Sumkindofking, Brian Boranha and the aforementioned Little Bruce all look very close at the weights and could all get involved at some stage.