Leopardstown was the home of some fantastic racing over the weekend, with the Dublin Racing Festival hosting seven Grade 1 races. Many of the horses on show starred ahead of the Cheltenham festival in March.
"Samcro heads for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and currently trades at 2.0811/10 to continue his unbeaten run."
Min got Willie Mullins off to a good start in the Dublin Steeplechase (Grade 2), beating Simply Ned by a comfortable 12 lengths to gain a touch of revenge for a defeat at the same venue in late December. Trading as big as 11.010/1 in the Queen Mother Champion Chase betting the day before his win, Min now trades at 3.7511/4. Yorkhill ran a very flat race, but only managed sixth.
Footpad was also an impressive winner of the Irish Arkle Novice Chase on the opening day. The Willie Mullins runner made all to finish five lengths ahead of rival Petit Mouchoir. Despite a slight scare at the last he eased to victory and is now a strong favourite for this year's Arkle Novice Chase at Cheltenham, now trading at 2.3211/8 for Cheltenham glory.
The feature race of day one was the Irish Champion Hurdle. Faugheen was back on the track after a disappointing showing last time out at Leopardstown. A much better run this time but the Rich Ricci-owned Faugheen had to settle for second place behind a vastly improving horse in Supasundae. That represented something of a shock result from the Jessica Harrington-trained horse who heads for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. He now sits as 4.57/2 favourite at the top of the market.
Blackbow made it a four-timer for Willie Mullins on day 1 in the Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars INH Flat Race beating the Joseph O'Brien trained Rhinestone. Both were 15 lengths clear of their nearest rivals but Blackbow stayed on well to win by one-and-a-half lengths. Trading at 19.018/1 before the race, he is currently available at 8.615/2 to land this year's Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
Samcro was the star of the show on day two making it six wins from six, and taking his first Grade 1 contest in fine style , beating nearest rival Duc Des Genievres by five-and-a-half Lengths. The Gordon Elliott-trained novice ridden by Jack Kennedy heads for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and currently trades at 2.0811/10 to continue his unbeaten run. Gordon Elliott said after the race to not completely rule him out of the Supreme, for which he trades at 6.25/1, but the betting says his aim will be the Ballymore.
Monalee ran out the winner of the Flogas Novice Chase on Sunday after an excellent round of jumping under jockey Noel Fehily. He put the bad fall last time out behind him as he saw off the Willie Mullins pair of Invitation Only and Al Boum Photo to win by a hard fought three-quarters of a length. He is now 5.95/1 second favourite behind Presenting Percy to win the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
Edwulf was a shock winner of the Irish Gold Cup, chased home by Outlander and Djakadam. Our Duke also ran but ran a very disappointing fourth a long way behind the outsider of the field Edwulf in a massive win for Joseph O'Brien, who landed his second Grade 1 victory, both coming over the weekend. Edwulf has been matched at as big as 1000.0 but now trades at 34.033/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Back in England, Buveur D'Air was back on the track on Saturday at Sandown. Despite a late scare from Barry Geraghty having to push out the Champion Hurdle favourite after easing up before the line it was an easy victory for the Nicky Henderson-trained horse. He now sits at 1.664/6 at the top of the Champion Hurdle market.
We Have A Dream made it four out of four for Henderson after making all at Musselburgh. He was shaken up and drew clear of the field to win by four-and-a-half Lengths. He looks a very promising horse and trades at 8.27/1 for the Triumph Hurdle.
Terefort won the Scilly Isles Novice Chase (Grade 1) at Sandown on Saturday in a very tough finish with Paul Nicholls' Cyrname. Terefort was trading at around 26.025/1 to win the JLT Novices Chase before the race but can now be backed at 13.5 for a Festival win.