Dublin Racing Festival Tips: Kemboy to bag victory

Kemboy is the one to beat in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Kemboy is the one to beat in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Dave Smith takes an in-depth look at day two of the Dublin Racing Festival on Sunday afternoon at Leopardstown, where a plethora of top class horses take their chance in a mouth-watering day's racing...

13:25 – Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

Aspire Tower looks a really nice prospect for the Henry de Bromhead team and it’s safe to say he couldn’t have been more impressive on Boxing Day when winning by 18 lengths. He re-opposes three rivals from that romp here and it would be hard pushed to think that they will reverse that form.

Wolf Prince was a subsequent winner, but there are question marks over what he defeated that day as well as the margin of victory. He’s rated some 13 lb lower than the red-hot favourite so improvement would have to be significant. A Wave of the Sea was held by even further in that race and although he’s with a highly regarded stable it’s hard to imagine him finding an equally mountainous gain with the market leader.

Cerberus, for the aforementioned Joseph O’Brien team, could well be the interesting one against the favourite here. Over in England he was a gallant second to a nice type of Dan Skelton’s and showed that he settles nicely, travelling sweetly through the race, just unable to match the pace of the winner. He’s stoutly bred and was comfortably clear of the remainder in bottomless ground at Chepstow. An easing in the depth of the surface should suit him here and as long as he doesn’t let Aspire Tower have an easy lead on the front-end, he could very much be an each-way play. 

Never Do Nothing is the final one to take some note of. It’s hard to get a handle on the Musselburgh form that saw him win on New Year’s Day, although fourth placed Beat Box won a weak contest at Newcastle next time out. He made all to win his maiden spin over hurdles and will try to deploy those tactics again here. The worry for him would be this is a much deeper race with several who may look to copy those moves.

Dave Smith's Selection: back Cerberus each-way 

Spring Juvenile Hurdle
Cerberus silk

Cerberus (EW)


13.55 - Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Plenty of quality on show here in a fascinating renewal. This race has long been dominated by Willie Mullins and though his hand is not as strong as Gordon Elliott’s he has a few fascinating entries. They’re headed by Mt Leinster for whom any drying ground is a huge bonus. He ran excellently at Gowran Park on his penultimate start and was very taking when landing a course and distance success here on Boxing Day. He quickened nicely after being keen in the early part of his race, but he’s still learning the job and connections are confident he can make a step into graded company. 

Gordon Elliott has elected to bypass this race with two of his star novice hurdlers, Envoi Allen and Abacadrabras, who are both prominent figures in the ante-post betting for the Grade 1 novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, so this race could unearth another class act that could be heading to Prestbury Park in March.

Easywork is now Elliott's premier challenger, and he will be the likely race favourite ahead of Mt Leinster. He has plenty of stamina in the bank as he showed when landing a race over a further four furlongs last time out turning over Willie Mullins’ Unexpected by a wide margin. It might pay dividends to get him rolling at the head of affairs and let his stamina come into play. 

Asterion Forlonge will need a step up in ability to take this but that’s not beyond his hugely talented trainer, but stable jockey Paul Townend has elected to ride Mt Leinster with Danny Mullins on board Asterion Forlonge, who will need to settle better than he did last time out and with the plan to step him up in trip in time this could be a watching brief. 

Selection: back Mt Leinster to win

Pharma Novice Hurdle
Mt Leinster silk

Mt Leinster


15:00 - Flogas Novice Chase (Grade 1)

The remarkable Faugheen is now in his 12th year and still looks to retain all of his panache and ability. When he blundered badly on his penultimate start, he showed all of his class by putting himself right, back in the firing line and first past the post in Punchestown, justifying favouritism. He dominated and saw off Samcro on Boxing Day despite once again not being wholly fluent over one or two of his fences. In this stronger contest he’ll have to be better but that’s more than likely given connections. 

Battleoverdoyen has won every race he has completed and will make a very fine chaser in time, especially when stepped-up to 3 miles. He’s a fine-looking animal though with plenty of scope and will relish the jumping test. He doesn’t tend to do a great deal out in front, but he should be played late and can land this for the Gordon Elliott team. 

Another eye-catching Mullins’ pair are Tornado Flyer and Easy Game. The former is a classy individual who took to his obstacles well after an early career as an exciting bumper horse and the latter may be one to keep on the right side of in the future, but this could come too soon. 

Dave Smith's Selection: back Battleoverdoyen to win

Flogas Novice Chase
Battleoverdoyen silk



15:30 - Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (Grade 1)

Connections have been very bullish about the chances of Presenting Percy and with them being particularly camera-shy normally that has to rank as important information. He took the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in 2018 with such ease that hopes were high for last year’s Gold Cup at the same course. He was backed into favouritism that day but never really travelled so all hopes would be for a significant improvement. 

Kemboy should be a warm order at the top of the market and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. He was desperately unlucky to come down when unseating his rider in Cheltenham but stormed back to show his class at Aintree and then on Ruby Walsh’s final ride at Punchestown landing the Gold cup there. Whilst his return to the track was a bit of a damp squib, he’d been off the track for seven months and can be excused that run. 

Delta Work took that contest and defeated Monalee by a head. He’ll need a little bit more to take this contest and being chalked up by the layers at around the 2/1 mark isn’t a price I would get involved with. 

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John has been ruled out by connections but last year's winner Bellshill will line up again. It promises to be an intriguing renewal that can go the way of Kemboy.

Dave Smith's Selection: back Kemboy to win

Irish Gold Cup
Kemboy silk


Cheltenham Festival Tips
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