1pt win Minella Crooner in the 1.05 Leopardstown at 7/2
0.5pts each-way Ben Siegel in the 1.35 Leopardstown at 16/1 (3 places)
1.5pts each-way Rightplacerightime in the 2.45 Leopardstown at 6/1 (6 Places)
0.5pts each-way Delta Work in the 3.15 Leopardstown at 11/1 (3 places)
1pt win A Wave Of The Sea in the 3.50 Leopardstown at 8/1
The opening Grade 1 novice hurdle looks a fairly open contest with Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle second and third Grand Jury and Hollow Games prominent in the betting. However, I want to be with Minella Crooner, who split the well touted Journey With Me and subsequent scorer Kilcruit when placing second on his hurdling debut Leopardstown over Christmas.
Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old easily shed his maiden tag at Punchestown last month when stepping-up in trip to 3 miles. The form of that contest is nothing to write home about, however, that experience will stand to him and he should be well suited by this 2m6f trip.
Both of his bumper wins were achieved on yielding ground, while his victory between the flags came on good to yielding ground – therefore conditions will suit.
7/2 looks a fair price.
The Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle could well prove to be a match-race between Fil Dor and Vauban, however, the market clearly reflects that and it may be worth taking them on with one at a much bigger price.
Noel Meade saddled Jeff Kiddler to land the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Grade 2 Rathbarry & Glenview Stud Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Grade 1 Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle Punchestown last spring, and the same connections clearly feel that they have another smart prospect in the form of Ben Siegel.
The Tamayuz gelding jumped well when making a successful hurdling debut at Punchestown in November and it may be significant that connections have decided to wait for this contest, resisting the temptation to run at Christmas or against lesser opposition.
That seems to suggest that they hold Ben Siegel in some regard and, while Vauban could be anything, the master of Tu Va Stables has line on Fils Dor through Lunar Power, who chased home Gordon Elliott’s charge at both Fairyhouse and Leopardstown before the turn of the year.
A price of 16/1 makes sufficient appeal with 3 places up for grabs.
The 3 mile handicap hurdle due off at 2.45 is a real conundrum, but I’m going to side with Rightplacerightime, who boasts the eye-catching jockey booking of Rachael Blackmore.
Emmet Mullins has already built a reputation of being a shrewd target trainer and it’s no surprise that Rightplacerightime was backed into 11/4 for the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle when last sighted at Haydock in November.
The Kalanisi gelding could only place sixth on that occasion, however, he ran out an easy winner on his penultimate outing over fences and he remains unexposed over staying trips. While he is rated 10lbs lower in this sphere, which offers further reason for optimism.
The fact that Rachael Blackmore has been booked for the ride suggests that a big run is expected and he could easily go well from the foot of the handicap.
Delta Work boasts a good record at Leopardstown and will bid to land this race for a second time, having first triumphed in 2020.
Like current favourite Kemboy, there’s a good chance that this is the ‘big target’ for Delta Work, who placed third behind Willie Mullins’ inmate in this contest 12 months ago.
The multiple Grade 1 winner has looked out of sorts in two outings this season and will clearly need to bounce back to something like his best in order to triumph. However, he boasts form-figures of 13 (111F36 over 3 miles at Leopardstown) in this race and makes sufficient each-way appeal at 10/1.
My final selection tomorrow is A Wave Of The Sea, who landed this race off a 9lbs lower mark last year.
The JP McManus owned six-year-old also landed the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle on this day two years ago and will therefore bid to bring-up a Dublin Racing Festival hat-trick.
Although much higher in the weights this year, it’s fair to say that this looks a much less competitive heat on paper and Shane Fitzgerald will take a handy 5lbs off his back.
A Wave Of The Sea has been campaigned over staying trips this season and his added stamina will certainly help tomorrow as there looks to be plenty of pace in the race.
Five of his seven victories to date have been achieved on decent ground. He should therefore enjoy conditions.
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