Timeform Irish SmartPlays: Friday December 27

A couple of Willie Mullins's runners disappointed on St Stephen's Day but it could be business as usual on Friday
A couple of Willie Mullins's runners disappointed on St Stephen's Day but it could be business as usual on Friday

Timeform concentrate on the action at Leopardstown, providing you with three selections...

There were a few high-profile reverses on St Stephen's Day for Willie Mullins-trained runners, notably for Arkle favourite Champagne Fever, but it is likely that the County Carlow-based handler will be enjoying big-race success on Friday as Arvika Ligeonniere is fancied to land a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Dial-A-Bet Chase at 13:20. Arvika Ligeonniere has endured his share of injury problems - he was off the track for over two years following a win at the Punchestown Festival in 2010 - but he proved himself to be a top-class novice chaser last season, winning at the highest level on three occasions, and he has made an excellent start to this campaign, successful on both starts. There is a suspicion that Arvika Ligeonierre - who is unbeaten over fences when completing - is better going right-handed but he still produced a level of form over this C&D last year that entitles him to be competitive here and he ought to make a bold bid.

Our next SmartPlay runs in the following race on the card as we side with The Tullow Tank in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at 13:50. The Tullow Tank met with defeat on two starts over hurdles last season, but he has looked a different proposition this time around, winning a maiden hurdle at Naas with plenty in hand prior to landing the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle earlier this month. The Tullow Tank displayed much improved form to win the Royal Bond, looking well on top at the line, and it would rank as little surprise were the lightly-raced five-year-old capable of better still.

The Paddy Power Chase (14:55) is always a fiercely-competitive handicap but Rockyaboya could offer a spot of value and is worth backing to claim the valuable prize for his leading connections. Rockyaboya has performed with plenty of credit in a couple of big-field staying handicaps of late, finishing fourth in both the Cork National and the Troytown Handicap Chase, and he looks sure to go well again with Ruby Walsh back in the saddle. Rockyaboya may run into a couple of better-treated rivals but his experience in big fields should stand him in good stead and the fact he comes into this contest in good heart is another factor in his favour.

Timeform Irish SmartPlays:
All at Leopardstown

Back Arvika Ligeonniere in the 13:20
Back The Tullow Tank in the 13:50
Back Rockyaboya in the 14:55

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