Four to follow in lovely Limerick while eyes are elsewhere

Kempton and Leopardstown may be the centre of the racing world on December 26, but it’s also a massive day of action in Limerick…


Usually falling under the radar due to the King George and a Leopardstown bonanza only two hours up the M7, the jewel in Patrickswell’s crown takes place over the next four days and we’ve got you covered for the first of those at Limerick.

Our opening race at 12.35pm sees fourteen declared for a two-mile maiden hurdle in a betting heat with a short-priced favourite.

Gordon Elliot sends Star Maker (8/11) to the Treaty city to get rid of his maiden tag, but there’s every chance he comes undone by Seamus Fahey’s more battle-tested 3-yo Randalls Ur Poet (2/1).

With the ground projected heavy in Limerick, we know he handles it – having finished well ahead of Elliott’s Kuraka in Gowran Park last month. Any money for Viking Hoard (6/1) should also be noted as the newcomer to Charles Byrnes’ yard won off a mark of 72 for Harry Dunlop back in August.

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At 1.05pm, we have a feisty contest with Ellmarie Holden holding the aces with Ex Patriot (7/4). It’s likely a three-way tussle for win purposes, as once again, Elliott and Mullins have what appear to be the main threats for every trainer under the sun. Sandsend (7/4) is joint favourite at time of writing, which given the form Rachel Blackmore’s mount has run to, suggests this French recruit of Willie Mullins’ could be anything.

We’ve heard this story before. Danny Mullins is on board. Elliott’s also saddling a French raider in the shape of Destin d’Ajonc (7/2).

The third race of the day is an absolute minefield of a 19f maiden hurdle, so should be avoided for betting purposes. However, the feature of the day is the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase at 2.10pm, where Al Boum Photo is touching 4/6 for Willie Mullins.

While ultimately impressive in his Navan rout of a small field, the gelding’s early morning market principle of Sean Flanagan’s unseated at the first – and was likely to set a brisk pace.

His jumping technique is good, but tends to lean ever so slightly right-handed over fences. For that reason, it’s worth siding with Tombstone (9/4), even with the three-pound swing in the former’s favour.

A handicap hurdle over two miles at 2.45pm looks the most competitive race of the day. Charles Byrnes inevitably finds himself well-positioned in the betting of any Limerick handicap hurdle, and he should have a cracking chance with Rosie Alice (7/2). The mare went for a spell of novice chasing, before her return to smaller obstacles here.

She won last time out off a mark of 110, and duly went up five pounds for her success on that occasion. However, Chris Meehan will use his very attractive five-pound claim off the back of Pats Oscar (9/1), who’s potentially well-treated on a seven-length demolition of Amarillo Rose back in September.

His races have been hit and miss since, but these are calm waters and he could easily find himself again, at a reasonably big price.

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* All odds correct at time of writing.

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