Horse Racing Tips

Boxing Day Irish Racing Tips: Farouk the bet at Limerick

Boxing Day sees top quality action in Ireland

"With the prospect of more progression, he looks the type who can go right to the top."

Mark Milligan will be across all the big Irish meetings over Christmas here on Betting.Betfair and he kicks off with some top class action on Boxing Day at Limerick...

"It's the most wonderful time of the year" sung Andy Williams on his 1963 Christmas hit of the same name. And while Williams was singing about the festive season itself and all that entails, racing fans can relate to it for the feast of high-class action that comes their way over the holiday season.

While Kempton and the King George meeting takes centre-stage in Britain on Boxing Day, across the Irish Sea Leopardstown begin four days of top-class racing that features the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at 14:20 as the day one highlight.


And this race really does serve up what should be a clash to savour, as the extremely exciting Ferny Hollow takes on the four-year-old filly Riviere D'etel, who has already created a big impression on her way to three successive wins over fences.

Much was expected of Ferny Hollow last season after he'd beaten subsequent Ballymore winner Bob Olinger on his sole start over hurdles at Gowran in November 2020. However, he subsequently suffered a stress fracture which was to side-line him until earlier this month, when he made a winning reappearance on chasing debut at Punchestown.

Going with zest in front, and jumping soundly in the main, Ferny Hollow came home four lengths clear of Coeur Sublime in what should well turn out to be a well-above-average novice chase.

Gordon Elliott's Riviere D'etel has done nothing wrong since been sent over fences and she will provide stiff opposition for Ferny Hollow, particularly as he receives 13 lb in terms of weight-for-age and the sex allowance.

A winner of a maiden chase in October, she's quickly developed into a smart sort with wins in both Grade 2 and Grade 3 company on her last couple of starts and looks sure to put up another bold bid in receipt of all that weight.

This has the potential to be a mouth-watering clash and sometimes we just don't need to have a bet to appreciate top-class thoroughbred action. This looks very much to be one of those times.

Fil Dor an exciting prospect

The chief supporting race on Leopardstown's card is the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at 13:10, which features another exciting Gordon Elliott trainee, Fil Dor, at the head of the market.

A French recruit, Fil Dor made a very impressive winning start to life for the Elliott yard when romping away with a three-year-old contest at Down Royal in October by no less then sixteen lengths.

The son of Doctor Dino then cosily took a Grade 3 contest at Fairyhouse on his next start, the feature of which was his slick hurdling, which is sure to stand him in good stead as he goes further up the ladder.

In second place that day was Lunar Power, who is expected to provide the main challenge once more. While Lunar Power is an honest trier, he does tend to lack a bit of the star quality of Fil Dor, and it's difficult to see how he can overturn that form if his chief rival rocks up in the same nick here.

Leopardstown back straight 1280x720.jpg

Gordon Elliott also fields Britzka, who was a fair maiden on the flat for Eddie and Patrick Harty, but already looks capable of being a better performer in this sphere. He created a nice impression when winning by six lengths on hurdling debut at Fairyhouse this month and looks just the type his trainer excels with.

It's hard to make too strong a case for the remaining four runners and it will be something of a surprise if this isn't fought out by the three already mentioned, with Fil Dor expected to prove the best of them, though he isn't really a bet at the likely prices.

Farouk to take Faugheen Novice Chase

Leopardstown doesn't have the monopoly on top-class Boxing Day racing, with Limerick also getting in on the action, that track staging a cracking renewal of the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase at 14:40.

Gabynako heads the betting, and it's not hard to see why given that he's made a nice start to life over the bigger obstacles. A winner at Fairyhouse in November, he went like the best horse in the race when second in Grade 1 company there last time, only a few sticky jumps letting him down when it really mattered.

He'll need to brush up his technique a little if he's to really make his mark at this level, though given he'd jumped well when winning the time before, it's likely he'll do just that.

However, I'm not sure that Gabynako has quite the residual improvement in him that Farouk D'alene possesses, and he's my idea of the bet in this race.

Not seen out since beating subsequent Spa Novices' Hurdle winner Vanillier (also runs in this race) at this meeting last year, Gordon Elliott's charge produced a borderline smart performance on his chasing debut at Navan earlier this month. That performance already stamps Farouk D'alene as a better chaser than he was a hurdler, and with the prospect of more progression, he looks the type who can go right to the top in this sphere.

The aforementioned Vanillier hasn't quite matched his hurdles form over fences yet but he likely will do in time, and he should play a prominent role. Lifetime Ambition, Lieutenant Command and Fire Attack are others who could well have a hand in the finish, though I'm not sure any of them have enough to lower the colours of Farouk D'alene.

Recommended bets

Mark's 2021 P&L

Staked: 69
Returns: 96.27
P/L: +27.27

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