Stars on course for next month’s Dublin Racing Festival

Thursday, 11 January 2024
Stars on course for next month’s Dublin Racing Festival

"We are very encouraged by the strength and the quality of our initial entries and I have no doubt that the racing will be second to none. It will be exciting to see Galopin Des Champs lining out in a bid for a second success in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup after his winning effort at Leopardstown over Christmas.”
Galopin Des Champs will get the opportunity to light up Leopardstown once again as he heads a stellar cast for the eight Grade 1 races at the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4.

On the back of his spectacular success in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Willie Mullins’ star chaser features among an entry of nine horses for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on the opening afternoon of the two-day extravaganza at which he’s been a winner for the past two years.

While his great adversary Fastorslow has also been given an entry in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase on the second day of the Festival, a clash between the two is very much on the cards. Most recently, Martin Brassil’s charge beat Galopin Des Champs at the Punchestown festival in April and again outpointed the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in November.

The big two could be joined by the Mouse Morris-trained Gentlemansgame, a winner at Wetherby in November, and Gordon Elliott’s Gerri Colombe which has 23 lengths to make up on Galopin Des Champs on their Christmas clash.  
Mullins has also entered his Irish Grand National winner I Am Maximus and the long-absent Monkfish while Elliott could also call upon his 2022 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup winner Conflated and last year’s Troytown Chase winner Coko Beach. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Jungle Boogie gets an entry after his Grade 3 success at Tramore on New Year's Day.

The first of the festival’s Grade 1 races is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle and among an entry of 24 horses are tomorrow’s Naas contenders Firefox and Ile Atlantique, trained by Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins. An Tobar, another big hope for top honours at Naas, has been entered by Henry de Bromhead along with improvers Jetara, trained by Jessica Harrington, and Pat Fahy’s Champagne Admiral, both winners at the recent Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

The season’s leading four-year-old hurdler Burdett Road heads the 22 contenders for the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Trained in Newmarket by James Owen, he is unbeaten in two jumping starts and could come up against Willie Mullins’ runaway Punchestown winner Storm Heart and his Limerick scorer Bunting. Gordon Elliott has entered his four-time winner Wodhooh and his dual-winner Kala Conti, a winner at Grade 2 level at Leopardstown last month. Another course and distance Christmas Festival winner in the early line-up is Joseph O'Brien’s Intellotto.

The Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase completes the Grade 1 action on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival and 16 horses have been entered. The Barry Connell-trained Marine Nationale leads the way after his impressive debut over fences at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and his biggest threat may come from another recent course winner, the Gordon Elliott-trained Found A Fifty. Willie Mullins has made seven entries and they include the Limerick Grade 1 winner Gaelic Warrior, Blood Destiny and Mister Policeman. The Gavin Cromwell-trained Letsbeclearaboutit is another significant name on the list.  

Topping the bill on Sunday will be the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle and State Man will be out for further success in the race following his defeat of Honeysuckle last year. He captured the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle for the second time at Leopardstown last month and his trainer Willie Mullins has also entered Impaire Et Passe, the Matheson runner-up, and the third horse home, Echoes In Rain. The champion trainer has also given last season’s top juvenile hurdlers Lossiemouth and Gala Marceau entries. Gordon Elliott has put both Pied Piper and Fils D’oudairies in the race, while the rejuvenated Bob Olinger is there for Henry de Bromhead after his wins at Navan in November and at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, with Colonel Mustard set to run for trainer Lorna Fowler.

The Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase, won by Galopin Des Champs two years ago, has an entry of 18 horses. Willie Mullins dominates with the likes of Grangeclare West, Fact To File, Gaelic Warrior and Nick Rockett on his team while Gordon Elliott counts Imagine, Found A Fifty and Sa Fureur on his. Emmet Mullins has entered Corbetts Cross while Silent Approach, a Grade 2 winner at Cork a month ago, is a possible runner for trainer Con O’Keeffe.

The entries for the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle numbers 26. Willie Mullins has entered 14 horses with Ballyburn and Mystical Power among them but there is no shortage of opposition with Caldwell Potter and Farren Glory engaged by Gordon Elliott with the likes of No Flies On Him, Boldog and Slade Steel in with a shout for trainers Edward O'Grady, Joseph O'Brien and Henry de Bromhead respectively.

Martin Brassil’s Fastorslow is one of 12 entries for the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. Also in the mix, but with something to prove after their Christmas efforts, are the Harry Fry-trained Boothill and Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness. The Gordon Elliott-trained Fil Dor was runner-up to El Fabiolo at Cork last month and the latter heads an imposing contingent for Willie Mullins. Allaho, Dinoblue, Ferny Hollow and Gentleman De Mee, last year’s winner, feature among the champion trainer’s eight entries.

Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown, said: “Our Christmas Festival really ticked every box from a racing and attendance point of view, and we expect more of the same at the Dublin Racing Festival in a little over three weeks’ time. We also look forward to welcoming many UK visitors, some returning and some for the first time, rolling out a traditional Irish welcome to Dublin's only racecourse.

"We are very encouraged by the strength and the quality of our initial entries, and I have no doubt that the racing will be second to none. It will be exciting to see Galopin Des Champs lining out in a bid for a second success in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup after his winning effort at Leopardstown over Christmas.”


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