It's an unbelievable weekend of racing ahead and this meeting at Leopardstown really is something else.
There's not one race there on Saturday and Sunday that isn't really interesting and all credit must go to everyone involved for putting together such a brilliant festival!
Dublin Racing Festival Day One
Starting with the 12:50 Grade One over 2 miles and 6 furlongs, readers of this blog will know how much I love Fury Road (I put him in my 10 to follow for the season). I think he will go very well here. To be honest, I think he'll take a lot of stopping.
The better ground and pace will really suit him and his work since his run at Christmas has been brilliant. The ground at Limerick took some getting and he learned a lot from that.
This is a very good race, don't get me wrong and the likes of Latest Exhibition, Elixir D'ainay and Longhouse Poet are very good, but I really rate Fury Road very highly. He might have a bit to make up with some of the others on bare form, but he definitely has the ability to do so. I'm very excited to see him run.
We've no runner in the race, but that Dublin Chase on the Saturday looks a proper contest. Everyone really could be envious of jockey's like Paul Townend who have their pick of some serious horses, but he had one hell of a choice to make between Min, Cilaos Emery and Chacun Pour Soi. It's going to be a brilliant race, but if Chacun Pour Soi can improve like a lot Willie's have been (Allaho for example), then he should go very close.
We have several runners in both the handicaps on day one, and I think Thatsy and Eclair De Beaufeu will go close.
I rode Eclair De Beaufeu (runs 2.35 on Saturday) to victory earlier in the season and he carries some good form into this, especially from the day when he chased home Notebook. His last 2 runs were poor, but his breathing has been done since and he could improve a lot for that procedure.
A mark of 140 might underestimate him if he bounces back to his best, Sean O'Keeffe is a very able young jockey who claims five pounds and this horse has a lot in his favour here. Like most races this weekend, it is a very hot contest though.
Thatsy (3:45 on Saturday) was one I really fancied over Christmas and he ran a huge race to be fourth on that occasion. His work since has been good and he should have learned a lot from that debut in handicap company. He has a nice each-way chance here.
In the bumper I really like the chances of Wide Receiver who I thought was unlucky last time when losing his position at a vital time. Jamie Codd will really suit him and he could be a big price to turn that form around with Eric Bloodaxe.
Dublin Racing Festival Day Two
In the Mares Handicap Hurdle on Sunday we'll have a few runners, but each of them would have an each-way chance and not much more. They are cracking mares, but each carry a decent amount of weight in this race and it's a very competitive mares handicap.
Oak Park is a big price in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle and while the favourite will be hard to stop, the Irish Juveniles don't look a great bunch this season and it wouldn't surprise me at all were he to finish in the first 3. His work has been good since his unlucky fall last time.
We were well represented in the entries for the 1.55 on Sunday, the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, but Easywork will be our sole representative. Abacadabras & Envoi Allen are absolutely fine, they just don't need the run and will head into the Cheltenham fresh and well in themselves. Both are working brilliantly at home.
Easywork is no back number though and he's very interesting too in this. I don't think dropping back in trip will bother him at all either. He's already beaten Mt Leinster this season and I don't see any reason why that form would be overturned. He has a favourites chance and is another very exciting novice hurdler in the yard.
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I really fancy Battleoverdoyen in the Flogas Novice Chase on Sunday and while he's already had 3 runs this season, he will probably need this test as he's had a very easy time of it in all of his runs this season. He's been dossing at the end of them really.
Faugheen is a legend and this is a massive test, but Battleoverdoyen has been working really well at home and will go very close to winning this. He can prove here now that he's not that slow at all!
His jumping has been brilliant and I'm looking forward to seeing him properly tested on Sunday.
We've a good team heading for the 2 days and Delta Work will hopefully cap the team off and win the Irish Gold Cup.
Kemboy and Presenting Percy might have improvement in them, but Delta Work is only getting better as the year goes on and I really like his chances in this. He'll get a proper pace I think, will be fine on the course and will love any ground. I think he should be favourite being completely honest.
In the handicaps on day two, I think Column of Fire (2:30) is the pick of the chances and could be well handicapped off 132. I think he'll enjoy the test over 3 miles.
The Best Chances
I think we've a strong team running at the weekend, but the two I like best at the odds are Fury Road and Wide Receiver on day one. Both are young improving horses who I think the world of and both will go very close in their respective races.
Hopefully Fury Road can take another step towards winning the Albert Bartlett in a few weeks and if I could ride any of them this weekend, I think it would be him I'd pick!
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