Ruby Walsh: Djakadam is the best horse in the Lexus Chase – but has the race come too soon?

Ruby Walsh takes you through the card on day three of the Leopardstown meeting - and gives us the latest on Djakadam and Vroum Vroum Mag


I always thought Valseur Lido was a 3 mile horse, although Gigginstown only let us run him over that distance twice. I was on him when we won a Grade 1 Chase at Punchestown over 3 miles, and he would have won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown if I hadn’t fallen off him! He is a very good horse but this is a fiercely competitive Lexus Chase at 3.00pm.

I’m on Djakadam who won well on his reappearance 17 days ago at Punchestown and I just hope this hasn’t come too soon. He’s a seven-year-old so he should be able to take it, but I’d prefer the race to be this time next week. People say what difference does a week make, but it’s massively important. It makes a difference in their recovery and how quickly you can start working them again. At this top level the extra recovery time can be crucial.

As for the rest of the field, Don Poli is on massive recovery mission while it’s hard to see Artic Skipper or Fine Rightly being anywhere near good enough. Lord Windermere just went down to Champagne Fever in Thurles which was his best run for a while, and More of That was third to Josses Hill in the Peterborough Chase. Outlander might have a sniff although he was held by Djakadam in the John Durkan last time. Road To Riches was pulled up in the Galway Plate and then finished second to Balleycasey at Gowran Park. Like Don Poli he’s on a recovery mission as well.

Djakadam is the best horse in the race. Let’s hope he shows it.

Vroum Vroum Mag has been working well since finishing second to Apples Jade in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle three weeks ago. We’re really very happy with her. The Christmas Hurdle at 1.50pm is an open looking race and Willie Mullins sends four in total.

Shaneshill will appreciate the 3 mile trip, while Whiteout is going to have to show some improvement to get close. Clondaw Warrior won well last time out over 3 miles but this is a significant step up in class for him.

Nicky Henderson’s mare Kotkikova is interesting to note. She was considered very highly in France where she won 11 of 14 starts over hurdles and fences. Nicky says her stamina when she works at home is mightily impressive. She could be the one to beat, but I wouldn’t swap Vroum Vroum Mag for anything.


12.15 Maiden Hurdle

Montalbano goes very nicely at home and we have had five maiden hurdle winners at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival already. He should be good enough to get home here. He wears a hood as he’s a bit keen but he has bags of ability.

Black Key and Cap York are the big dangers. Black Key was disappointing at Navan finishing fourth but he stays well, while Cap York is a nice horse.

12.50 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle

Noble Inn will probably struggle with 11-2 on his back and he hasn’t run in 340 days which is a small concern. The best of Willie’s lot is likely to be Isleofhopendreams down the bottom of the handicap. He carries 9-5 and Andrew Ring takes another 5lb off his back making him well treated in a competitive race. There’s plenty of horses with chances but Isleofhopendreams is our best shot.

2.25 Novice Handicap Hurdle

Aretesone ran well in front of Artful Artist last time out, and he subsequently ran well here on Monday. Tudor City is well fancied but he’s a small horse to be carrying 11-4 even with a 3lb claimer. He’s probably a worthy favourite in a tricky race. Bull Ride has been consistent and Cian Collins takes 7lb off him which is a help and he’ll be a danger. Aretesone always runs his race but just struggles to win. He comes into this in reasonable form after two good runs and could be there or thereabouts for Ted.

3.35 INH Flat Race

Patrick Mullins and Willie didn’t think our Bumper horses were magnificent not that long ago, but everything they have run seems to have run. Carter McKay goes as well as any of them and you’d expect him to oblige.

What do you think?