Tony Keenan is in to cover the third day of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival and has four horses worthy of support...
"The one that jumps out is Isleofhopendreams down the bottom. Willie Mullins’ excellence as a target trainer has again been in evidence over the past two days and it would be no surprise if this has been a long-term plan; Isleofhopendreams was hammered into a Betfair SP of 4.216/5 for a similar race at the Fairyhouse Easter meeting only to fall at the third."
Willie Mullins has dominated the first two days of action at Leopardstown and Limerick and rather than try to be clever and oppose his runners today I'm going to row in behind a pair of them.
Leopardstown 12:50 - Bottom weight Isleofhopendreams looks well-treated
There may be 25 runners in this Pertemps Qualifier but it looks a race of quantity rather than quality. Presenting Percy is the in-form horse but the 14lbs he got for last time is excessive even allowing for his getting a decent sectional upgrade and the trip is a concern too as he's unraced beyond the minimum. Of the other fancied ones, Noble Inn is another doubtful stayer and hasn't run in almost a year while Rathpatrick was in trouble before unseating on return at Haydock.
The one that jumps out is Isleofhopendreams down the bottom. Mullins' excellence as a target trainer has again been in evidence over the past two days and it would be no surprise if this has been a long-term plan; Isleofhopendreams was hammered into a Betfair SP of 4.216/5 for a similar race at the Fairyhouse Easter meeting only to fall at the third.
Getting to the track has been the issue with him throughout his career but he showed his wellbeing in winning at Cork last month, an effort which supports the belief that he is well-treated off 109. Of the rest, decent runs from Garri Rua and Barnahash Rose wouldn't be a surprise.
Leopardstown 13:20 - Acapella can make sweet music from the front
Along with being close to the best of these over hurdles, Acapella Bourgeois brings the best chase form line into this race by dint of his third Martello Tower last time; that one will be well-fancied for a Grade 1 tomorrow while the second has won since. Acapella Bourgeois took a while to take to the fences on that occasion having fallen at the first on chase debut so there should be better to come jumping-wise and he has been a likeable sort that is very hard to pass since his novice hurdle days which included a win at this meeting.
Bleu Et Rouge obviously has potential but might want softer ground and hasn't run since Aintree while Gangster, for all that up in trip will suit, doesn't have the form of Acapella Bourgeois.
Leopardstown 14:25 - Dundee worth another chance to prove worth
Ben Dundee shaped really well on debut at this meeting last year in a maiden hurdle that worked out like a graded race and while not running again until last month, the time off was apparently by design. He won well on that occasion despite racing keenly and though his most recent effort was disappointing, there was lots of support for him on the day and his jumping was poor. There are a few in-form horses in this like Tudor City and Charlie Stout but Ben Dundee has pretensions of going on to better things and should prove better than a mark of 120 if back to the level of his first two runs.
Leopardstown 15:00 - Ricci runner the solid option
I've been beating the drum for Fine Rightly for the Lexus for a little while but my enthusiasm has waned with the ground drying out; even so, he's a fair price at odds north of 50.049/1 as both his runs this season have been excellent.
Having only been confirmed a runner yesterday morning Djakadam looks much the most likely winner and is worth a small bet. I prefer his narrow win over a pair of race-fit, in-form rivals in the John Durkan over a trip that is a bit sharp to Valseur Lido beating up a regressive Silviniaco Conti and there's a pretty good case to be made that Djakadam has upwards of 5lbs in hand on his opposition. A rock-solid 170 horse coming into this off an ideal prep, he will be hard to beat.
1 Point Back Isleofhopendreams @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 12:50
1 Point Place Back Isleofhopendreams @ 4.77/2 or bigger in the Leopardstown 12:50
1 Point Back Acapella Bourgeois @ 4.77/2 or bigger in the Leopardstown 13:20
1 Point Place Back Acapella Bourgeois @ 1.75/7 or bigger in the Leopardstown 13:20
1 Point Back Ben Dundee @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 14:25
1 Point Back Djakadam @ 3.02/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:00
National Hunt Season P+L: -4.8 points