Leopardstown preview with Sean Jackson
A Competitive 2m 4f Maiden hurdle to open proceedings with three bumper winners in the line up. Noel Meades Snow Falcon could prove hard to beat, he arguably has the best bumper form on offer and has an edge of having had a run over hurdles before. Henry De Bromheads horses are flying at the moment and his Identity Thief showed an impressive turn of foot to land a hot bumper at Fairyhouse, he will need to jump well but should enjoy the soft surface being by kayf Tara. Tony Martins Okotoks is very interesting particularly if the market speaks in his favour as he finished a nose second to yesterdays impressive winner and stable mate Blair Perrone, he had a nice pipe opener last time and Ruby Walsh rides.
Tony Martins’ Dara Tango sets the standard here off a mark of 135, 5lb higher than his excellent third in the Fixed Brush Hurlde at Haydock. He is the class act here but has a lot of weight to carry. At the very bottom of the weights Paul Nolans’ Triplets Joy could still be well in off a mark of just 109. She’s just 6lb higher than when winning on her penultimate start and ran into a in-form Abolitionist at Fairyhouse the last day. This race could turn into a slog and Triplets Joy kept staying on to good effect last time and with just 9-5 on her back thanks to Luke Dempseys’ valuable 5lb claim she could go well.
This is a very intriguing race, Willie Mullins Un Atout looked like a machine in his novice hurdling days winning by very wide margins on bottomless ground. He attained a high rating of around 150 in that sphere and could make an even better chaser. He jumped well on his comeback run from an injury at Fairyhouse bar one bad mistake and weakened in need of the run as it was first run back from a long injury. He should prove hard to beat with that run under his belt. Le Vent D’antan looks the chief threat but will need to jump better than he did on his chase debut at Naas, that said he did put in some spectacular leaps when Davy Russel asked him. Sizing Codelco looks a chaser and ran with promise in a very good race behind recent Grade 1 scorer Clarcam. However he was easily brushed aside that day and I think Clarcam has improved bundles since, so he will need to up his game. Gordon Elliotts Balbir du Mathan should not be dismissed either as he was still travelling well when falling in a hot race at Fairyhouse.
At Fishers Cross has proved a big disappointment following his win the the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham on soft ground back in 2013. However many of those runs have been on faster ground and the bottomless ground should be perfect for him. He’s the top rated here off 157 and could be the one if returning to his best. Briar Hill hasn’t been pleasing connections at home and might just need this as both a confidence booster and a blow out. Monksland might also need the run too and it would be some training feat by Noel Meade were he to win it. Zaidpour isn’t the most trustable horse but on a going day can be tough to beat. Jetson could reverse the form with Lieutenant Colonel over this longer trip of 3m and should be that strip fitter today. However im not sure he’ll want the ground as soft as this.
An open looking 2m Handicap hurdle and Tom Mullins mare Elsie could go well with David Mullins taking an invaluable 7lb off her back. She’s a decent mare on a going day and could be worth chancing as there are gound worries for many of them. One of them is the fast improving Shabras Bertolini who won at Navan despite badly pecking on landing at the last hurdle and he’s just 5lb higher. Tony McCoy rides A Grey Matter who hasn’t shown much of late but showed definite promise in a maiden hurdle at Navan. Tony Martins Shemshal should also be considered as he travels very well and looks on a fair mark but todays soft conditions might just be against him.
2014 Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere should take all the beating following a very pleasing seasonal debut run behind Don Cossack and Boston Bob who reopposes today. He doesn’t mind the very soft ground at all and Jim Culloty should have him cherry ripe for today. Nicky Hendersons’ Bobs Worth is the best horse in the race with a rating of 170 which was as high as 180 in his prime. However the ground has to be a worry and Cheltenham might be the number one target with him. Boston Bob also has ground concerns but is very classy also and has to be strongly considered. Sam Winner is still improving but will have to if he’s to win this and he wears Cheekpieces for the first time. The Vastly improved Road to Riches will be hard to peg back if getting a sizeable lead but thats unlikely and he doesn’t have that fitness edge that he had at Down Royal in the JNWine Chase while Tony McCoys mount Carlingford Lough has plenty to find. First Lieutenant wouldn’t be a surprise winner as he definitely has the class to land this if returing to his best form when a close second to Tidal Bay in the thrilling 2012 renewal.
Willie Mullins is double handed here and it would be a surprise if he didn’t collect with one of them here. Up for Review won a point to point beating the a bumper and hurdles winner Pulled Mussel by 6L very impressively, he could be very good and should be hard to beat. Arbor Run also runs for Willie Mullins and Declan Lavery takes 5lbs off the four year old. Gordon Elliotts runs debutant Robin Thyme with Nina Carberry booked to ride and he’s interesting. Jim Cullotys’ Midsommarkransen sets the standard with a fair second in Thurles. Kalanisi King also has some decent form to his name but looks vulnerable.
Sean Jackson 28/12/14