Three bets from Leopardstown make up Saturday's Irish SmartPlays...
"Sir des Champs was close up in fourth in this race 12 months ago before winning the Hennessy over C&D in February."
The 12:50 is an absolute minefield, but lucrative if you can find the winner. Empire of Dirt could be the way to go on his handicap debut given the strength of the form of his three runs this term, accounting for a couple of subsequent winners on his return before running into Faugheen. The step up in trip and fitting of headgear for Un Beau Roman looks interesting and he's the pick of Ruby Walsh of the three from Bagenalstown, while Followmeuptocarlow is just one other respected among a plethora of potential rivals.
The complexion of Leopardstown's Christmas Hurdle (13:50) has changed completely with Solwhit's withdrawal. The market has now been reformed, yet it still looks to have underestimated Zaidpour's chance to get back to winning ways at the highest level. He's habitually run into top-notchers since last winning just over a year ago, yet have been consistent all along and should have enough to overcome the progressive Mala Beach and Rule The World, who has some questions to answer after last time.
The Lexus Chase (14:55) certainly poses plenty of questions. Will Bobs Worth be back on song? Is Unioniste good enough? Is Sir des Champs just a spring horse? The last of those questions looks the easiest to answer- no- as Sir des Champs was close up in fourth in this race 12 months ago before winning the Hennessy over C&D in February. A spill in the John Durkan asks a more pressing question, though with the biggest targets in his sights you doubt that Sir des Champs' connections would run him unless they were totally satisfied.
Timeform Irish SmartPlays
All at Leopardstown