Big names standing their ground in the three Grade 1 races on the opening two days

Envoi Allen, Chacun Pour Soi, Min and Ballyadam stand their ground for Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Thursday, December 17, 2020
Chacun Pour Soi Paul Townend

Chacun Pour Soi and Paul Townend on the way to winning the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Dublin Racing Festival 2020

“All of us at Leopardstown are very much looking forward to four days of great racing at the Christmas Festival. Today's entries and forfeits show that the strange year we have had has not affected the standard of racing, it is exceptional. We are, as always but particularly this year, extremely grateful to all our sponsors, owners and trainers who support Leopardstown every year.“

The first of the weekend’s Grade 1s is the Racing Post Novice Chase on St Stephen's Day and the unbeaten Envoi Allen is among 13 horses remaining in the race. Gordon Elliott also lets Felix Desjy and Conflated go forward but he is outnumbered by Willie Mullins who has five to choose from with Asterion Forlonge, Blackbow, Energumene, Janidil and Franco De Port sill engaged. Last year’s winning trainer Henry de Bromhead has Benruben and Popong while Darver Star is there for Gavin Cromwell, Paul Hennessy has Heaven Help Us and Joseph O'Brien could well rely upon Embittered. 

The busy St Stephen's Day programme on Saturday begins with the Join With a €10 Bet Maiden Hurdle and the Gordon Elliott-trained Indigo Breeze a likely leading contender. Elliott is also well represented in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle but a most interesting runner here would be Henry de Bromhead’s Bob Olinger. 

The first of the Festival’s graded races is the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle and the season’s leading three-year-olds Zanahiyr, Quilixios and Duffle Coat, a trio from the Gordon Elliott yard, feature among the 13 entries. 

The Barry Connell-trained Big King, the Eoin McCarthy-trained Mattie’s Mountain and Sadies Trix, from the Peter Fahey yard, are among the 49 entries for the Holden Plant Rentals Novice Handicap Hurdle. Holden Plant Rentals are also backing the day’s bumper which has attracted 32 horses, including a number of unraced horses from the country’s leading stables. Noel Meade’s Harry Alonzo and Gordon Elliott’s Top Bandit were both runners-up on their respective racecourse debuts. 

Henry de Bromhead looks to have a strong contingent in the Bet Through The Racing Post App Handicap Chase with Epson Du Houx, Popong and Raya Time among his entry of eight. Tom Mullins’ Grand Partner and the Edward Cawley-trained Golden Jewel are other intriguing entries for the race. 

The second day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival is Paddy Power Chase Day and there are 11 horses, including Chacun Pour Soi and Min, going forward for the for the first of the afternoon’s Grade 1 races, the Paddy's Rewards Club Chase. They feature in a four-strong entry for Willie Mullins and heading the opposition is the Henry de Bromhead-trained A Plus Tard, winner of the race a year ago. The County Waterford trainer has also left in Notebook and Put The Kettle On while Pat Fahy’s Castlegrace Paddy, the Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro, John Queally’s Djingle and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Le Richebourg complete the line-up. 

Eighteen horses have stood their ground for the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle with Ballyadam, Call Me Lyreen and Eskylane contenders for the Gordon Elliott yard. Willie Mullins is represented by seven horses, including Appreciate It and N’golo while Noel Meade could yet run both Cask Mate and Jesse Evans. Henry de Bromhead has left in Irascible and Joseph O'Brien has both Keskonrisk and Fire Attack.  

A total of 62 horses have been left in the Paddy Power Chase including early market leaders Ontheropes and Castlebawn West from the Willie Mullins yard, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Lock’s Corner, Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Times, Dermot McLoughlin’s Captain Cj and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Home By The Lee. Last year’s last-gasp winner Roaring Bull, trained by Gordon Elliott, also remains among the entries.

Sunday’s card begins with the Paddy Power Three-Year-Old Maiden Hurdle for which 36 horses have been entered, including the Joseph O'Brien-trained Palm Beach. Klassical Dream, trained by Willie Mullins, is among the 15 entered for the Paddy Power Games Beginners Chase. 

Martin Brassil’s You Raised Me Up looks an interesting contender in the Paddy Power Maybe I Like Misery Handicap Hurdle for which 43 entries have been received with and all the big stables are represented in the ‘Paddy Power Flat One’ INH Flat Race with the likes of Noel Meade’s Killer Mode and the Willie Mullins-trained Reality Cheque featuring among the 24 early entries. 


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