The Dublin Racing Festival has been a big success since its launch and this year’s renewal saw plenty of top-class action. Naturally, there were plenty of large ramifications in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival markets. With some high-profile horses getting beaten, it is fair to say some races now have more questions than answers about them. Read on to see my Dublin Racing Festival ante-post round-up ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
The first Grade 1 of the weekend saw Good Land come home in front on what was, basically, his hurdles debut after he unseated at the 1st at Fairyhouse on his previous start. He only has one entry at Cheltenham in the Ballymore and he is now 3rd favourite at 4/1 with Bet365 for that contest.
Lossiemouth has been a warm order for the Triumph Hurdle for months and she was expected to take the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Things, however, did not go to plan for jockey Paul Townend as he ended up blocked on the rail after jumping the 3rd last just as the race was about to get going. She did well to get back up for 2nd place and still heads the betting for the Triumph at 7/4 with Bet365. Her stablemate Gala Marceau landed the contest and although many will think the placings will be reversed next month she is clearly still a very good horse. She is 5/1 for the Triumph with Betfred.
The Irish Arkle looked like a red-hot renewal and El Fabiolo came out on top to become Ireland’s main Arkle hope behind Jonbon, who is set to run this weekend. He was a very impressive victor beating Banbridge by 10L. He is now just 9/4 for The Festival with Bet365. Appreciate It came into the race as the shortest price Irish horse for the Arkle, but he could only finish 3rd here and is now out to 8/1 for that race. Dysart Dynamo made the running but could only finish 4th and he is out to 8/1 with Betfred for the Arkle. The 2nd Banbridge is 14/1 with the same firm for that contest, but he looks more likely to head for the Turners over 2m4f and is 9/2 with William Hill for that.
The final Grade 1 on the Saturday racing was the Irish Gold Cup and Galopin Des Champs became the shortest-priced winner of the race. There was much discussion after the race about how impressive he was and, amazingly, he was a winner that has been pushed out in the ante-post market which rarely happens. He is now 7/4 with Betfair for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The fairly steady gallop wouldn’t have suited National Hunt Chase winner Stattler and he might improve the extra trip at Cheltenham. He is 7/1 with William Hill for The Festival.
Plenty of drama on Sunday
On Sunday, the first Grade 1 of the day went the way of Mighty Potter, who was impressive and just continues to improve. This sets him up nicely for The Festival next month and he is now just 6/4 for the Turners with Bet365.
There was a bit of a shock in the Dublin Chase as 1/4F Blue Lord was very disappointing in only finishing 2nd to Gentleman De Mee. Paul Townend said he had run flat, but it was no surprise to see him pushed out to 7/1 with Bet365 for the Champion Chase next month. The winner was impressive though and he stamped his claims as a possible Champion Chase contender for which he is now 9/1 with Bet365.
Honeysuckle was looking to win the Irish Champion Hurdle for a 4th time, but the great mare was not able to get the better of the favourite State Man. Clearly, Constitution Hill looks to be hard to beat at Cheltenham, but State Man’s impressive victory at Leopardstown at least sets things up nicely for a cracking clash on day 1 of The Festival. He is now 3/1 with Bet365 for that contest. Vauban who has 3rd here is 3rd favourite for the Champion Hurdle at 10/1 with William Hill. After the race connections were suggesting if Honeysuckle was to run at Cheltenham then she would go for the Mares Hurdle rather than the Champion Hurdle and she is into 7/2 with Betfair for that contest.
In the final Grade 1 of the weekend Il Etait Temps put in a stunning performance to land the Novice Hurdle over 2m, but the race was probably more noteworthy for the performance of favourite Facile Vega. He was a short price for the Supreme Hurdle going into this race, but he emptied very quickly in the straight to finish last. Not surprisingly, he is out to 4/1 with Bet365 for the Supreme after this poor effort. Incredibly, you can actually get a bigger price for the winner who is 5/1 with Betfair for the same race.
Another possible Willie Mullins runner in the Supreme is Gaelic Warrior who landed the big handicap hurdle of the weekend in very easy style despite jumping out to his right at the time. He is 6/1 for the Supreme and 5/1 for the Ballymore with Betfair and Mullins has yet to decide which race at The Festival he will go for.