Horses for Courses

Postponed Clonmel Fixture

The postponed Clonmel fixture has been rescheduled for tomorrow without the Grade Three Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle from the recently abandoned Cork which was run at Fairyhouse on Saturday. The first race is off at pm.

Festival Racing Action

  Saturday, St Stephen’s Day, sees the start of the Leopardstown four day Christmas festival first race at 12.15pm, the 3 day Limerick Festival at 12.30 pm and Boxing Day at Down Royal also at 12.30 pm. On New Year’s Eve the action comes to a close for 2013 in Co Kildare at Punchestown and 2014 action gets under way the following day at Fairyhouse with times not yet available. 

  The feature on St Stephen’s Day at Leopardstown is the Grade 1 Novice Chase which carries an entry of 13. The Willie Mullins trained Vautour, unbeaten in 6 races in Ireland, looks the part but is odds on. If John Ferguson’s English raider Three Kingdoms travels he is stepping up in class having won both his chases at Newcastle and Leicester and could be e/w value.

  There are 17 entered in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day headed by the impressive Fairyhouse winner Kalkir again from Willie Mullins’ yard who has already been backed for the Triumph from 12’s to 6’s and he will be a lot less if he wins this. Winner of the first juvenile hurdle of the season at Lenebane Love The Feeling takes on Kalkir again having been 4th at Fairyhouse and might prove e/w value.

  In the bumper the one that catches the eye, among all from Gigginstown and Ricci, is the Christy Roche trained Falcon Crest, 2nd recently to Bordini at Navan before he went on to win again at Punchestown.

  The feature at Greenmount in Limerick is the Grade 2 Novice Chase and while there are a few double entries with the Foxrock Novice give Very Wood, a consistant type who pulled up last time, another chance. In the opener Conright Boy definitely has a chance on his last run, 5th at Navan, he is also entered in the bumper at the Foxrock venue on Monday. In Down Royal Rockfield Open winner Luska Lad will take beating if he turns up for the Hunter Chase.

  On Boxing Day at Down Royal there seven races on the card providing top quality National Hunt racing. Our gates open 11.00am with the first race kicking off at 12.25pm (approx.) and the last at 3.30pm (approx.).

  On Sunday there are 2 Grade 1 races, the Dial-a-Bet Chase, very open and Days Hotel will be there or thereabouts at a price ground permitting, and Future Champions Novice Hurdle both sponsored by Paddy Power.

  Sunday is Ladies Day with a fantastic Sunway Travel Holiday to be won with the feature race on the card the Grade B Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase worth €50,000.

  On Monday Bobs Worth, bred in Co Down and winner of the 2012 Gold Cup, should have his second start in Ireland in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase to defend his title. The Lexus is the feature event of the Leopardstown Christmas meeting and the British are looking to make it 4 in a row but Boston Bob and Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere, form a strong home team, will make it a strong contest. All three horses are being backed ante post almost to the exclusion of all others. There is a second Grade 1 race on the card the Christmas Hurdle.   This year the stakes are high as the competition is sponsored by world renowned 5-star Monart Destination Spa. Gather the girls and the hats to be in with a chance to win the Ultimate 5-star escape at the County Wexford venue worth €5,000 in the Monart Destination Spa Most Stylish Lady competition.

  Tuesday, the final day of the meeting, again features 2 Grade 1 races, The Ryanair Hurdle and the Neville Hotels Novice Chase. The hurdle race is to all intents and purposes a match between our top hurdlers Hurricane Fly and Jezki.

Won by Hurricane Fly in four of the last five runnings the Ryanair Hurdle is a hotly contested race and a key pointer for the Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham. Also featured is the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

  The Foxrock track expects the going to be yielding to soft on both courses for the festival. The going in the north is soft and at Limerick soft, soft to heavy in places at present.

The Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival takes place from Saturday 26th until Tuesday 29th December 2015. The 4 Day Festival is synonymous with great racing and of course a great atmosphere. With live racing action from 12:30pm each day, make sure you visit Limerick Racecourse for a great day out this festive season. With all the top class racing to enjoy; dates for the diary include Festive Most Stylish Ladies Day on Sunday 27th December and Family Fun Day on Tuesday 29th December which takes place in the Greenmount Grotto to include face-painting, party games and much more. Children under 16 years will enjoy FREE admission to the races on all 4 days of the festival.

Feature race is the grade 2 Shannon Airport Novice Chase

Feature race is The Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase

Feature race on the day is 4 year old Irish Independent Listed Hurdle.

  The grade 2 Kirkland Investments Doran’s Pride Novice Hurdle

  With nearly a week to go to Christmas racing it is very difficult to pick winners but as we go to press a couple to watch on St Stephen’s Day are Willie Mullins’ Kalkir in the Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, Lyrical Theatre is in the maiden hurdle at Limerick and should add to her 3 wins. and can’t see a bet at Down Royal. On Monday My Hometown, a recent very impressive point to point winner should win the opening maiden hurdle first time of asking at Limerick for Enda Bolger. Hope some of these defray, not add to, the Seasonal expences.

  Cross Channel on Boxing Day the King George will hopefully see an Irish victory with Champagne Fever, who takes on Silviniana Conti,  Alferof and Cue Card among others. Noel Meade also sends over Road To Riches.

  The Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase is the feature at Kempton on December 27. Also on Saturday the Welsh National takes place at Chepstow.

Point to Point

  Point to Point Racing will resume at Dromahane in Cork on Wednesday 30th December with the first meeting of the New Year at Templenacarriga in Cork on the 3rd January.

  All that left for me to do is to wish all readers and punters a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year with, hopefully, a few winners over the holidays to defer the expences.

   Two Irish trained horses Don Cossack and Vautour head the betting market in Kempton’s King George Chase from Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti with 14/1 bar.

  In the Christmas Hurdle Faugheen, odds on in most books, will defend his crown and Willie Mullins is confident he will leave his poor run in Punchestown behind him.