Horse Racing Tips: Top pundits’ picks for Leopardstown on Saturday at the Dublin Racing Festival

A big day needs some big calls from the best pundits in the business for Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup day.

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Forget about the 2024 Cheltenham Festival for a moment – no, seriously, because for the next two days the Dublin Racing Festival is here.

Huzzah! We start on Saturday with four Grade One races including the The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3.35pm) that features a Leopardstown face-off between the reigning Gold Cup champion Galopin Des Champs and his two-time conqueror Fastorslow.

And to guide you through the day’s drama we’ve assembled a crack-team of pundits, punters and best guessers to help you find a winner or two in Paddy’s famed Cheat Sheet.

With previous form at many Festivals we’ve enlisted former top jockeys turned top pundits’ Ruby Walsh, and Mick Fitzgerald, ace number cruncher and all-round good guy Frank Hickey, and the clock watchers at Timeform for company on Saturday.

    Don’t take your eyes off this for a second.

    Ruby Walsh

    Mick Fitzgerald

    Frank Hickey

    Timeform

    Ruby Walsh

    Paul Townend was keen for Predator’s Gold  to run here and he steps up in trip to 2m 6f after chasing home Caldwell Potter at this venue over Christmas. 

    Mick Fitzgerald

    Loughglynn did well to get back up and win at Limerick over Christmas when making a bad mistake at the last. 

    Frank Hickey

    Jetara has looked a much improved mare this season and while I respect Predator’s Gold, he was beaten last time by Caldwell Potter and is hardly bomb-proof. 

    Timeform

    Predator’s Gold looks the strongest of Willie Mullins’ quartet having pulled clear with the exciting Caldwell Potter in the Future Champions Novices’ Hurdle here over Christmas.

    Ruby Walsh

    While I respect Paul’s opinion and he’s chosen to ride Storm Heart, I suspect Highwind looks very talented and he’s my pick as a value play each-way. 

    Mick Fitzgerald

    Majborough won nicely at Auteuil early in the French season so normally Willie Mullins doesn’t crack on with them, so it’s fascinating to see him tried so highly at the Dublin Racing Festival. 

    Frank Hickey

    Highwind didn’t jump brilliantly on hurdles debut but he showed a really good engine to pick up again after a bad mistake at the last to win going away. Rachel Blackmore rides and has a good strike rate for Team Mullins despite not being on the number one choices most of the time. 

    Timeform

    Kargese was beaten only ¾-length by Kala Conti in a Grade 2 over C&D in December and, with the run likely to have brought her on, she’s taken to reverse the form with her old rival on these slightly better terms and come out on top.

    Ruby Walsh

    We should see a better performance from Facile Vega as he was very disappointing at Christmas but even on his best day last year he wasn’t good enough to beat Marine Nationale in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

    Mick Fitzgerald

    I love Marine Nationale. He was a top novice hurdler who won the Supreme Novices Hurdle convincingly from Facile Vega and meets his old rival again now over fences. 

    Frank Hickey

    Marine Nationale should just win. He was impressive at Christmas when winning on his chasing debut and has the beating of Facile Vega on their hurdles form in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

    Timeform

    Marine Nationale continues to look a class act and he’s fully expected to maintain his unbeaten record for all that Found A Fifty has looked a natural since sent chasing and boasts a good level of form. Facile Vega obviously can’t be ruled out.

    Ruby Walsh

    My dad’s horse, Gaoth Chuil, won the Pertemps Qualifier here over Christmas and should run a solid race again and might be a bit of value each-way.

    Mick Fitzgerald

    I backed Fine Margin when he ran at Haydock only to bump into an Emmet Mullins’ special in Slate Lane. The ground will not be an issue and he is still well handicapped off a mark of 127.

    Frank Hickey

    I’ll take a bit of a flyer on one who should be a good price in JJ Murphy’s Black Bamboo. He steps up in trip to 3m and it might bring out improvement in him given some of his back form.

    Timeform

    Canal End looks to have a fair bit more to offer over staying trips so Peter Fahey’s unexposed sort edges the vote. Fine Margin is expected to build on a promising Haydock debut second for Willie Mullins and is next on the list.

    Ruby Walsh

    If the same Galopin Des Champs turns up that won at Christmas he should win. He was a 23-length winner that day and has only three opponents to face this time, headed by Fastorslow.

    Mick Fitzgerald

    I am taking on the odds-on and favourite and reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Galopin Des Champs with Fastorslow. He comes in here fresh and Galopin Des Champs’ stunning win last time may have left a mark. 

    Frank Hickey

    Galopin Des Champs returns after an awesome win in the Savills Chase over Christmas for a fascinating rematch with Fastorslow, who had beaten him twice at Punchestown before that last Leopardstown run for the reigning Gold Cup champ. He won’t be beaten if replicating that performance again.

    Timeform

    Galopin Des Champs looked back to his scintillating best over Christmas and if in a similar mood he should turn the tables on Fastorslow, who has inflicted two Punchestown defeats on last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero.

    Ruby Walsh

    The five-year-old Madara makes plenty of appeal. He’s very lightly raced and was a good winner at Cheltenham in December and is only 3lb higher now. 

    Mick Fitzgerald

    Joseph O’Brien’s Solness got a hefty hike in the ratings for a success at Fairyhouse. That was his first time over fences on soft ground and it seemed to bring out improvement in him. He can follow up. 

    Frank Hickey

    UK trainer Sophie Leech brings over French import Madara who finally got off the mark in December after some promising runs. He looks a strong finisher and this course should prove ideal.

    Timeform

    French-recruit Madara is coming good for this yard so could be the answer after his decisive win at Cheltenham. Henn See disappointed at Limerick on Boxing Day but starts life in handicaps off a fair-looking mark, while Solness won a similar event at Fairyhouse.

    Ruby Walsh

    I can’t remember a horse winning six bumpers and that’s what last year’s Champion Bumper winner A Dream To Share is looking to do after connections recently ruled out a hurdles campaign this season. 

    Mick Fitzgerald

    A Dream To Share was being prepared for a novice hurdle campaign but connections had to shelve that plan. He’s been off the track since April which is far from ideal, but we’re not guessing about his ability.

    Frank Hickey

    You Oughta Know hammered Croke Park on debut in Kilbeggan and some of those behind have run well in the UK since. He’s won at Galway, Killarney and a Navan maiden hurdle since and can give the others plenty to think about at a fair price. 

    Timeform

    It’s hard to get away from A Dream To Share, who was the dominant force in bumpers last season. Willie Mullins has several candidates with Redemption Day and You Oughta Know particularly respected.

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