Dublin Racing Festival Saturday Tips: The treble beckons

Min is aiming to win the Dublin Chase for the third year running.
Min is aiming to win the Dublin Chase for the third year running.

12:50 - Golden Cygnet Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

A select field of eight runners are set to line up in what is a fascinating renewal of this opening Grade 1 contest. No fewer than five of the runners won last time out, and as expected most of the big yards are represented. The race was won by Commander of Fleet for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy last year in the famous Gigginstown House Stud colours, and the same owners are treble-handled coming into the race this year - meaning they have to be confident of retaining this valuable prize. 

Assemble coped well with the step up in trip to win on hurdling debut at Limerick over Christmas, justifying favouritism in the process, and although he gave the impression that a further step up in trip would suit, he may just fall short here given his lack of experience at this level. Cobblers Way also won over timber last time out, pouring it on from the front and holding on gamely, and although he looks a chaser in the making, his form has been boosted by recent wins for The Big Getaway and Aarons Day subsequently and he can't be ignored if allowed a soft lead.

Elixir D’Ainay was beaten by one of the best around in Envoi Allen at Naas just a few weeks ago, but has still shown some solid form so far, defeating the re-opposing Longhouse Poet twice in the past, and considering he may improve for the extra distance here, he looks a genuine threat to the selection. Also worthy of consideration if Latest Exhibition, whose defeat of Andy Dufresne back in December has been boosted by the runner up landing a Grade 2 subsequently, though he will need more on his first start in Grade 1 company.

However, it's Fury Road who looks the one to beat here. Representing last year's winning trainer Gordon Elliott, he has stamina in abundance and continues to improve all of the time. He has proven form over this trip, and would have won by further in a Grade 2 contest at Limerick last time out if it wasn't for a mistake at the final flight. 

Karl Hedley's Verdict

1. Fury Road 2. Elixir D’Ainay 3. Cobblers Way

Golden Cygnet Novice Hurdle
Fury Road silk

Fury Road


13:25 - Dublin Chase (Grade 1)

This is the third running of the Dublin Chase, and it will see Min bid for an historic third straight win in the race. He clearly knows every blade of grass around the track and he seems destined to get his preferred soft ground. Robbie Power will partner him for the first time, but he is well used to having a different jockey on board having won for the likes of Ruby Walsh and Danny Mullins in the past.

Stablemate Chacun Pour Soi is the preferred mount of Paul Townend, and given the details of the horse's most recent work at home, it is clear as to why he has made his choice - with rumours circling that the Ricci-owned gelding has improved hand over fist in recent weeks. However, it is worth remembering that despite the lofty praise for him in pre-season, he was readily brushed aside by the re-opposing A Plus Tard here in December. I prefer to see the horses let their racing do their talking for them and he is not for me this afternoon. 

A Plus Tard proved he was no mug by taking the scalp of Chacun Pour Soi over this course and distance last time, but he still has something to find with Min on official ratings, and that rival has shown absolutely no sign of deterioration despite now being a nine-year-old. Rachael Blackmore knows A Plus Tard inside out, however, and they will be there to pick up the pieces should the wheels fall off the Mullins battalion.

Cilaos Emery was an impressive winner at Cork in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase last time out, but the level of that form is very difficult to assess. In his last two competitive races he has beaten only five rivals, but he could do no more than win. Admittedly, he did win a 17-runner beginners’ chase around this time last year, but in all essence, he still has a bit to prove.

Meanwhile, Ordinary World plugged on for third place behind A Plus Tard and Chacun Pour Soi around here last time, and he will do well to repeat the feat. However, there are still definite signs of ability and should the big guns fail to fire for whatever reason, he is likely to plug on once more.

Karl Hedley's Verdict

1. Min 2. A Plus Tard 3. Chacun Pour Soi

Dublin Chase
Min silk



14:00 - Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1)

Just the seven runners are set to line up for the third Grade 1 contest of the day, and Willie Mullins is responsible for four of the competitors; Bapaume, Cash Back, Melon and Royal Rendezvous. Meanwhile, Oliver McKiernan sends out Gallant John Joe, Joseph O’Brien has engaged Fakir D’oudairies and Henry De Bromhead is responsible for the likely favourite in Notebook.

On paper, this looks a straight rematch between Notebook and Fakir D’Oudairies, with the former coming out on top in their recent clash over this course and distance on St Stephen's Day. The pair disputed the lead for most of the race and eventually Notebook drew the sting out of his younger rival, who admittedly had a valid excuse for falling on his sword as his jockey briefly lost his irons. The front pair pulled some 16 lengths clear of the re-opposing Royal Rendezvous and it is difficult to see him reducing that deficit here.

Melon won a beginners’ chase over this course and distance over Christmas, and can confirm recent form with Gallant John Joe on that basis. It is still quite some way below the form usually required to win this though, and he may have to settle for minor honours. Stablemate Cash Back won a novice chase again over this course and distance by an impressive 12 lengths. Danny Mullins renews his association with the gelding, but no eight-year-old has won this race in 15 years. Finally, Bapaume has been well beaten in his four most recent visits to this track, and despite a winning return last time, he clearly has his limitations and cannot be backed with any confidence. 

Karl Hedley's Verdict

Notebook is taken to extend his winning run by getting the better of Fakir D’Oudairies once again. He was giving him 7 lb last time and now only concedes 5 lb today. The money has been down for him all week, so connections are clearly confident. Of the remainder, Bapaume returned to winning ways at Naas last time and may grab a place at the finish.

1. Notebook 2. Fakir D’Oudairies 3. Bapaume 

Irish Arkle Novice Chase
Notebook silk



15:10 - Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

A mouth-watering clash between Honeysuckle and her male counterparts is on the cards, and this winning machine of a mare can show the boys a clean pair of hooves to take the final Grade 1 of the afternoon. She pulled out all the stops to deny the likes of Bacardys and Apples Jade in the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse back at the beginning of December to extend her winning sequence to six. She acts on everything from good to heavy surfaces, and having been given a nice break by her trainer, she can cement her claims for Champion Hurdle glory at Cheltenham by taking this en route.

However, it is likely that Sharjah will test her every step of the way. He already has the beating of the re-opposing Petit Mouchoir, Klassical Dream and Aramon, and the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old certainly improved from his seasonal reappearance where he trailed in eight lengths behind stablemate Saldier. A three-time Grade 1 winner, he will provide an excellent barometer for Honeysuckle in terms of gauging her Cheltenham credentials, and will be there to take advantage should she falter. 

Meanwhile, last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Klassical Dream has endured a lacklustre campaign thus far. He's failed to build on that in two starts so far this term, and although his connections will be hoping that he can bounce back, he can't be supported with any confidence at present.

Petit Mouchoir is as tough as old boots, and could well run into a place on the best of his old form. He has outrun his odds on his two most recent outings in Grade 1 company, but he has endured a lot of racing already this season. One who has not and who tends to go well fresh is Supasundae. He may be a ten-year-old these days, but he certainly retains plenty of enthusiasm for the game. He is a dual course and distance winner, so he does command respect, and his odds do look a bit generous at the time of writing.

Karl Hedley's Verdict

1. Honeysuckle 2. Sharjah 3. Supasundae 

Irish Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle silk


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