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3 against the field in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase on Sunday

| 12.01.2016

Finding a race in Ireland that Willie Mullins has a poor recent record in is no mean feat, but with just one place from his last nine runners in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase on Sunday’s card, this contest is one of the rarities.

The Closutton handler could be triple-handed on the outskirts of Dublin in the Grade A contest, though with all three yet to run this winter, whether they will be fully wound up for this remains to be seen.

We’ve looked through the entries for the 2m5f contest to pick out three that could just outrun their odds, and there just so happens to be one in the care of the champion trainer in our trio.

Ballycasey – 14/1

A frustrating sort, Mullins’ grey looked like being Grade 1 quality in his early days but has somewhat failed to deliver.

However, he ran a solid race off top-weight when last seen back in May in the Pat Taaffe Memorial Chase at Punchestown, finishing fourth.

He’s been dropped 1lb for that run, and back down in distance can be expected to put in a bold bid on ground that will suit.

The nine-year-old beat Gold Cup fancy Don Cossack by four lengths over course and distance in February 2014, so clearly likes the track and possesses some quality.

With the break of eight months to get over there will be question marks, but if showing some of his early promise could well break his trainer’s 15-year wait for another winner in the race.

Empire of Dirt – 14/1

If only there were no fences to jump in this contest, Colm Murphy‘s charge would surely be a shorter price.

With four falls in his last nine chase starts, you are certainly taking a chance on this one’s jumping, but when he does get round, he is very talented, winning or placing in the four contests he has completed.

He was still well in the frame when coming down late on at both Thurles and in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase, so if sorting his jumping out, would surely be rated higher by the official handicapper.

The ‘dirt’ in his name certainly eludes to what he prefers to see flying in his races, with Murphy sending out to race on just two occasions when the word ‘good’ is in the going description.

Take a punt on him getting round, and if he does, he could be bang there.

Folsom Blue – 16/1

As always we like to give the trends followers a good pointer in these big races and the Leopardstown contest is no different.

Although the race was changed from 3m to 2m5f in 2009, a number of prevalent patterns have emerged among the winners.

  •  – 11 of the last 15 winners were rated 135+
    – 11 of the winners since 2001 were aged eight or nine
    – 14 of the last 16 winners finished in the first five last time out
    – The same number had won or place in a chase worth £22k or more
    – Just one of the previous 15 winners was not a second or third season chaser
    – 10 of the winners since 2000 had won or placed at Leopardstown
    – Every winner since the turn of the millennium had run in the last 50 days
  • Just one horse meets all of those criteria and that is Mouse Morris’ Folsom Blue.

He finished third in the Paddy Power Chase over the Christmas period at Leopardstown, and with a liking for the soft ground and all the boxes ticked, the nine-year-old rounds off our trio to follow.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.