Day two of the Dublin Racing Festival promises to provide plenty of important clues ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, much like day one.
El Fabiolo and State Man are short prices to oblige in their respective handicaps, though betting propositions away from the Dublin Chase and Irish Champion Hurdle could prove to be fruitful.
Add Musselburgh’s fascinating card into the equation and Sunday looks like an epic day for national hunt racing.
12:40 Leopardstown – Fleet Of A Dancer @ 6/1 EW with BetVictor
Without trying to steal Andrew Blair White’s thunder, Fleet Of A Dancer holds solid claims in the opening mares’ handicap hurdle.
Paul Nolan’s five-year-old travelled like much the best horse on her last start at Fairyhouse and danced in at big odds, though she received a 12-pound hike for her troubles.
That penalty seems fair based on what she did and she clearly has no trouble with the trip.
Add to the fact that she is ground versatile and has good form in big-field handicaps, she could continue to improve past her current mark of 125.
1:10 Leopardstown – Gaelic Warrior @ 11/10 Win with William Hill
It may come as no surprise that Gaelic Warrior is my fancy in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase, but it did surprise me his price of 11/10.
His tendency to jump out to his right is taken into the price, but on visuals and known form, he deserves his place at the top of the market.
He is the horse in the lineup that could head to a King George next season and be very competitive, whereas it would be a surprise to see others turn up with a competitive chance in a similar race.
"It's nothing but a Saturday afternoon stroll." 👀
Grade One-winning hurdler Gaelic Warrior was not foot-perfect early on, but he was simply on a different level on his chasing debut @punchestownrace ⭐️@WillieMullinsNH | @PTownend pic.twitter.com/6kMSKBLMAa
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 25, 2023
His jumping on the whole wasn’t too far out to his right at Limerick last time out, and a recreation of that display would see him win this.
1:40 Leopardstown – Ballyburn @ 1/1 Win with William Hill
Completing the duo of short-priced favourites, I think Ballyburn will be too good for his rivals in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Chase.
Farren Glory is probably his biggest danger, and although it looked as if he was going to win the Grade 1 Formby Novices’ Hurdle on Boxing Day, the level of the British novice hurdlers looks a few pounds below Ireland’s contingent this year.
Impressive … 👀
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 29, 2023
Furthermore, although he failed to frank the form in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, his second to Firefox is good form in my book and he looked like a proper animal at Leopardstown over Christmas.
He is short, but I think his price is pretty fair for what he has done and it will take a good one to get the better of him if he is on top form.
3:20 Leopardstown – Heart Wood @ 8/1 EW with BetVictor
Coming into this season, Heart Wood was a horse I thought could contend Graded novice chases.
In fairness to the six-year-old, his form when second to Grangeclare West on seasonal reappearance and second to Blood Destiny in December backs this thought up.
However, a mark of 136 allows connections to try their hand in handicap company and could severely underestimate his potential.
✅ A winning debut over fences for £430,000 purchase Grangeclare West. No obstacles were jumped in the home straight @CPStudOfficial | @NaasRacecourse | @WillieMullinsNH | @PTownend pic.twitter.com/XQDGBiMZUe
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 12, 2023
Rob Acheson, son of owner Brian, said on a pre-season video with the We’re Going Chasing Podcast that they would expect him to win his beginners chase before trying Graded company.
That hasn’t quite gone to plan, though running into a subsequent Grade 1 winner in Grangeclare West doesn’t dent his reputation at all.
He looks well treated off his current mark and the extra furlong around Leopardstown should suit him as well.
4:25 Leopardstown – Switch From Diesel @ 33/1 with BetVictor
In the finale of the Dublin Racing Festival, Switch From Diesel has the ability to cause an upset against the well-bred Aurora Vega.
The five-year-old has contested four bumpers so far, finishing second in two, third in one, and getting the better of Ma Belle Etoile in the other.
— Irishracing.com Live (@IrishRacing365) October 1, 2023
By Yeats, her immediate family has some nifty Flat horses including Egerton, a four-time Group-winning German horse, and Enora, the 2010 German Oaks winner.
As for her time on the track, although she has to reverse the form with both Baby Kate and Sharp Object, she ran well behind both in the early stages of her career and has notably improved with her racing.
She highlighted this when her third to Jalon D’Oudairies, a well-fancied Gordon Elliott contender for the Champion Bumper, and Redemption Day, an experienced horse in the bumper scene, on her most recent start.
Back against her own sex, her Flat-oriented pedigree could put her in good shape for this race, and at 33/1, she is a big price to give a chance to.
Over in the UK, two horses are on my list as intriguing bets.
The first is Thunder Rock over at Musselburgh in the Scottish Champion Chase at 7/2. Max McNeill has a good deal of confidence in him bouncing back from his disappointing effort at Cheltenham and the field in the December Gold Cup was stronger than it is this weekend.
In the proceeding race, Impact Du Bonheur could get off the mark for Paul Nicholls at 5/1. The £90,000 purchase is sporting first-time blinkers on his second start in a handicap and the heavy ground of Sandown was a negative towards his chance last time out. Better ground should see him go close.