The Dublin Racing Festival gets underway on Saturday with some high quality racing at Leopardstown, and here with his exclusive thoughts on all his runners there and his one representative at Sandown is Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott...
"Rapid Escape is a very smart horse, he's one for the future and has been very impressive so far with three bumper wins to his name, the latest of which was a listed contest in testing conditions."
Dortmund Park was impressive on his last start and despite a mistake at the last he cruised to a 16L victory from Burrows Saint, he is a really nice sort who we like a lot - his first start for us wasn't what we had hoped but it looks like he just needed a run behind him as he is quite laid back and is a big stamp of a horse. He has come on tenfold at home since and looks a million dollars, this is a big step up for him early in his Irish career but he was a winner of both his French starts and we think he goes here with a very credible chance.
Tycoon Prince got off the mark over fences on his second attempt last time out here staying on well to finish ahead of favourite Bunk Off Early. He is such a big horse he is only going to improve for time and he came out of his last race really well so although this is a big step up for him and his biggest ask over fences he is more than able to put up another good performance but I think Footpad is definitely the one to beat.
Tell Us More hasn't been the easiest to train since his Grade 3 win at Naas back in November of 2016, he's had his fair share of problems and unfortunately hasn't been able to replicate that form since. He ran a very poor race here last time out in December in a Grade 1 but realistically he was of no danger that day and it was a big ask. This is an easier task for him today so I hope to see a revival of form retaining the blinkers - I would love to see him back in the winners' enclosure but he has a lot to do.
Squouateur is a horse who just does what he has to do at home so can sometimes be quite hard to predict, his latest run was here at the end of December and I thought he ran well. He won a Handicap Hurdle here over 2m4 back in 2015 so we know the track suits so if he can improve again from that last run - which I think he can then he looks to certainly have each-way claims here today.
Mick Jazz had this race earmarked for him after his Grade 1 Leopardstown victory, he did it well the last day staying on gamely to finish ahead of Cilaos Emery after Faugheen was pulled up leaving the race wide open but he was spot on that day. Everything went his way and that's as good as he is so although I'm expecting a good run things could obviously go much differently today if the real Faugheen shows up and Mick Jazz has been beaten by Melon before. On the positive side conditions look ideal and he goes here in fantastic form.
Ben Dundee finished a respectable second here last time out behind Trainwreck, he is a nice sort who has a pleasing way of going at home. I think now with a few runs behind him this season he will improve again and this looks an ideal opportunity for him to collect some prize money again in an open contest.
Veinard looked to have a very nice chance at Ascot two out but hit a brick wall when push came to shove, he's the type of horse who is probably holding a bit back and can just tend to let himself down in the closing stages of a race. The ability is there and he does have some decent runs in big handicaps behind him but he would need to knuckle down to be a huge danger in this although having said that it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him finish in contention.
Empire Burleque was the winner of his debut Point to Point and went on to win his bumper for us, although the race wasn't really run to suit him he got the job done. He's still quite green and ultimately is a horse for next year but he is a very nice individual who we like a lot. He faces a tough contest here today and while our other runner holds more appeal he is plenty capable of making his presence known.
Rapid Escape is a very smart horse, he's one for the future and has been very impressive so far with three bumper wins to his name, the latest of which was a listed contest in testing conditions. He's an easy enough horse to keep fit and is very straightforward at home so he's been tipping away nicely with this race in mind and although its another level for him I'm confident he can again run a progressive race and hopefully register his first Graded success.
Folsom Blue is our only runner across the water today contesting the Grade 3 Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle, he ran well at Navan last time out in a Grade B and held on well to win by a head on his penultimate start beating favourite Westerner Point. He has the cheekpieces back on today, will enjoy the ground and if they get the forecast rain even better. I think he will be well suited to the track and he goes here with a really nice chance under Barry Geraghty.
I think our best chance from Saturday's runners is Rapid Escape in the Bumper at Leopardstown but I also really like the chances of Dortmund Park in the last.