Intriguing Entries Received for The Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Monday, December 03, 2018

Lepardstown Christmas Festival 2018

As usual I am really looking forward to the racing in Leopardstown at Christmas. The quality of racing and opportunity to see how our best horses measure up against their peers is something we nervously looked forward to at this time of year - Gordon Elliot. 

DAY ONE:        Wednesday, Racing Post Day December 26

€100,000 Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase
The Racing Post Novice Chase is the Grade 1 feature on St Stephen's Day, Wednesday, December 26 and its prize-money has been increased to €100,000 from €90,000 this year. The two miles, one-furlong event was won last year by the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad who went on to land Grade 1 races over the same course and distance at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February, the Cheltenham Festival the following month and the Punchestown Festival in April. There are 24 entries for the 2018 renewal, Willie Mullins has a quartet that is headed by Voix Du Reve(4/1 with Paddy Power). Mengli Khan (4/5f with Paddy Power) could hardly have been more impressive when successful at Punchestown for trainer Gordon Elliott while the pick for Henry De Bromhead includes Mind’s Eye (16/1) and the hat-trick seeking Ellie Mac(50/1). Joseph O'Brien has entered Le Richebourg (6/1) and his owner JP McManus might also call upon Winter Escape(14/1), trained by Aidan Howard.

DAY TWO:       Thursday, Paddy Power Day December 27
€125,000 Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Club ‘Sugar Paddy’ Chase
The first of two Grade 1 races on the second day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival is the €125,000 Paddy’s Rewards Club ‘Sugar Paddy’ Chase, which sees its prize-money up by €25,000. The Nicky Richards-trained Simply Ned (10/1 with Paddy Power) landed the spoils under Mark Walsh last year and he is among an entry of 17 horses that also includes Enda Bolger’s Ballyoisin(4/1 with Paddy Power), the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad(6/5 Favourite), Great Field (5/1) and Un De Sceaux(8/1), Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John and the Ruth Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently.

€100,000 Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle
The Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle becomes another race with a six-figure prize fund with an increase of €15,000 bringing the overall value to €100,000. Willie Mullins won the most recent renewal with the Luke McMahon-owned/David Mullins-ridden Whiskey Sour. The much-touted Annamix, Aramon, Tornado Flyer and Sancta Simona are on the champion trainer’s team while chief among their rivals could be the Joseph O'Brien-trained Ballyneety and Gordon Elliott’s Commander Of Fleet

€200,000 Paddy Power Chase (Handicap)
One of the great spectacles of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, the Paddy Power Chase remains the richest race of the four-day meeting, with a value of €200,000. There are 53 initial entries headed by the Noel Meade-trained Tout Est Permis (20/1 with Paddy Power) who will be bidding to add to his recent win in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan. De Name Escapes Me (14/1) is also included in Meade’s entries while Out Sam(20/1), fifth in the Troytown Handicap Chase heads the Gordon Elliott team. Pairofbrowneyes (8/1f) and Isleofhopendreams (12/1) figure prominently among Willie Mullins’ team while Snugsborough Benny(20/1), Drumconnor Lad (20/1) and Black Scorpion (14/1) are interesting entries for trainers Liam Cusack, Adrian Keatley and Eric McNamara respectively.

DAY THREE:    Friday, Savills Day December 28   
€100,000 Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle
Day Three of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival is focused on the stayers and the Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle over three miles will now also be worth €100,000, an increase of €15,000 on last year. The Gordon Elliott-trained Apple’s Jade (4/5f) and Davy Russell beat Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae (5/1) to win the race in 2017 and both feature among an entry of 23 horses that also includes a notable entry from Willie Mullins who has Faugheen (10/1) and Benie Des Dieux (11/2) on his team. 

€175,000 Grade 1 The Savills Chase
Total prize-money of €175,000, an increase of €25,000, is on offer for the inaugural running of The Savills Chase on the third day of the Festival which carries the banner of ‘Savills Day at Leopardstown’. Among the 32 entries for this race with the richest of histories are last year’s 1-2-3, Road To Respect(3/1f), Balko Des Flos (16/1) and Outlander (20/1) for trainers Noel Meade, Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott respectively. Cheltenham Festival hero Presenting Percy (7/2) is set to feature for owner Philip Reynolds and trainer Pat Kelly while Willie Mullins’ strong team includes Bellshill, Kemboy and Al Boum Photo. Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John (6/1) is listed for the Savills Chase as well as the Paddy's Rewards Club Steeplechase for Jessica Harrington but is more likely to appear here.  British trainers Nicky Richards, Paul Nicholls and Ruth Jefferson have entered Baywing, Clan Des Obeaux and Waiting Patiently.

DAY FOUR:      Saturday, Ryanair Day December 29   
€100,000 Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase
The value of the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase has risen from €85,000 to €100,000 this year. The race saw Gordon Elliott land a 1-2 in 2017 with the mare Shattered Love, winner of the Grade 1 JLT Novices´ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival subsequently, beating Jury Duty and this year Elliott has a strong entry with his Cheltenham Festival winner Delta Work leading the way. Next Destination, a dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles, heads the Willie Mullins stable while other notable entries include the Paul Nolan-trained Discorama and Le Richebourg for Joseph O'Brien.

€125,000        Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle
The Ryanair Hurdle was won by Mick Jazz for owner George Mahoney, trainer Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell last year and the race sees its value rising to €125,000 from €100,000 for the latest renewal. The Iain Jardine-trained Bedrock (25/1) beat Gordon Elliott’s Samcro (7/4f) to win at Down Royal last month and both hold entries while the latter’s stablemate Apple’s Jade (16/1) is also among the initial 16 entries. Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’Allen and the Jessica Harrington-trained Supasundae also make the early line-up while Willie Mullins can choose from a powerful squad that boasts Faugheen(20/1), Laurina (4/1) and Melon (9/2) among its numbers.


Speaking at the launch Gordon Elliott commented: As usual I am really looking forward to the racing in Leopardstown at Christmas. The quality of racing and opportunity to see how our best horses measure up against their peers is something we nervously looked forward to at this time of year.

Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “All the team here at Leopardstown are very much looking forward to another four days of great racing at the Christmas Festival. Today's entries reflect the very high standard of racing we have come to expect at Christmas. The quality of racing is greatly helped by the wonderful prizemoney on offer. We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors whose contribution allow us offer these purses. We are also very grateful to the owners who support Leopardstown with their very best horses every year.“




Two photos of today's Launch at Gordon Elliott's Cullentra house yard in Longwood, Co. Meath;

Photos from the Yard Launch, will be syndicated To PICTUREDESKS, via inPHO Photography No REPRO FEE:

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