There are certain staples of an Irish Christmas: over-indulgence, a strong showing at mass and swashbuckling action at Leopardstown.
After a phenomenal opening day yesterday, we look ahead to the card on the 27th – one that’s filled with quality from start to finish and potentially littered with Cheltenham clues as the Festival looms menacingly around the corner.
12:10 – Paddy Power ‘Only 363 Days Till Christmas’ 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle
This opener might not possess some of the brighter lights seen later in the card, but with fifteen grand to the winner, it’s seen a lot of interest.
There are a few potential superstars in here, too. All you have to do is look at the pedigree of some of these types. Sir Erec was a smart performer for Aidan O’Brien, finishing just three lengths behind the classy Stradivarius at Ascot in a Group 2. A son of Camelot running around Leopardstown at Christmas should get the pulses racing.
There will be lot of support for Willie Mullins’ Andalusa, of whom who connections think a lot, while Tiger Tap Tap runs in the Ricci colours. The silks alone should make for a competitive betting heat to open the day.
12:40 – Paddy Power ‘Live Stream All Irish Racing On Our App’ Beginners Steeplechase
Maybe the most competitive race of the day, there are probably five horses in here that you’d be happy putting your money behind, albeit each coming from a very different point in their early careers.
Paloma Blue will likely go off favourite, but the promise of finishing three lengths behind Summerville Boy in the Supreme cooled off ever so slightly in his following runs. A blowout last in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown raised eyebrows before a 12-length loss to Jetz last month elevated concerns.
But if he’s learned from it, he’s the best of this bunch.
However, Real Steel, Red Jack, Moon Over Germany and Mitchouka all come into this with a shout.
Willie Mullins’ son of Loup Breton left little or no impression in the Albert Bartlett but has looked somewhat progressive. He was sent off at 10/1 in a Grade 2 for a reason, even if he pulled up that day. His problems weren’t fully ironed out in his reappearance when losing to Dortmund Park, but he remains with potential.
We’re not in the dark about the horses Germany is producing and Moon Over Germany’s run behind Getabird may not jump out on paper, but it’s possible that the second that day is a very likeable sort.
Mitchouka was further behind on that day but may have the most scope for improvement out of this whole field.
13:15 – Paddy’s Rewards Club ‘Sugar Paddy’ Steeplechase (Grade 1)
Clearly, this race centres around Footpad and whether or not he can reaffirm his Grade One class.
Some may even scoff at the questioning, but this is why we love racing and all its trials and tribulations. Footpad has yet to be beaten over fences when standing up and the way he goes about his business can be breathtaking, but the fall last month at Naas may be problematic.
Given he’s likely to set a real pace, the race may be set up for the likes of Simply Ned to pick up pieces for a place.
And don’t forget, we’re also going Money Back as a Free Bet on ALL LOSERS if Footpad wins.
13:50 – Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
There’s always a very likeable sort to come out of this race and go onto bigger things, so your betting stance should revolve around finding out who that is.
Of the marks available here, we’ve got 142-rated Triplicate leading the way, but Sancta Simona (2/1) could be absolutely anything. Daughter of Saddex, the 5yo has been very impressive in her two starts over hurdles and getting seven pounds from all but the outsider is often enough to see a race like this go in her favour, even if she doesn’t quite reach the mark set by the alternative.
Aramon will have his supporters, but a 7-length defeat to Quick Grabim gives him little other than a touch-up on race fitness.
14:25 – Paddy Power ‘Enough of your Nonsense’ Handicap Hurdle
If there’s a more likeable type in these upper-end handicaps than Tully East then I don’t know them. But, given recent exploits, the price is already too short and clouded in sentiment.
And with us Paying an Extra Place on this race, a bigger price could be worth taking.
Jan Maat off 120 looks to be well-treated and there aren’t too many more potent combinations than Rachael Blackmore and Gigginstown at the moment.
Twobeelucky and Ancient Sands both have class, but their marks have more than caught up with them. Therefore I find High Expectations to be of interest. Having previously won off 129, his rating of 128 is only here due to a run you feel you could easily forgive last time out.
The handicapper might think that win over Apterix at Sedgefield was a tad lucky, but I certainly don’t.
15:00 – Paddy Power Steeplechase (Grade B)
This looks an absolute minefield, but Irish Grand National sob-story Arkwrisht looks like he could run well off 137.
You don’t often see too many Ricci horses in these handicaps, so they must think they can take the pot with Livelovelaugh.
De Name Escapes Me has been a popular antepost bet but I don’t fancy getting involved at the weights, while the same applies to Pairofbrowneyes.
The Gigginstown runner Arkwrisht is my tentative selection but at 25/1 and Paddy paying 7 places you could do worse.
15:30 – Paddy Power Games ‘One For The Road’ Flat Race
In truth, it won’t take a lot to steal this pot given the types with experience look exposed even up against bare promise.
Dermot Weld’s Neptune looks likeable, but nothing stands out on form, while Oliver McKieran’s charge All For Joy already looks frustrating with three seconds to his name.
K’chou Du Pecos Aa and Milan Native look the likely types with a slight preference for the latter given the yard and ownership’s record in these races.
*Prices and places correct at time of publishing