Hayley O’Connor: Your guide to Boxing Day at Leopardstown
There are 76 races taking place at 11 tracks across Ireland and the UK today, so to try and make things slightly easier, I’m going to give you my brief take on the card at Leopardstown.
24 runners line up at 12.15 in the opening maiden hurdle and leading the betting are 2 horses that haven’t run in over a year, Joseph O’Brien’s Outspoken and Willie Mullins’ Bunk Off Early.
Both were successful on the flat, Outspoken more so, and he has also the benefit of having been tried over hurdles already, when he finished second last year. So it makes sense that Bunk Off Early lies behind him, as second favourite in the betting.
But with such long absences from the track, surely there is better value elsewhere?
Imperial Way has come second twice in two bumpers for Joseph O’Brien, while No Brainer has put in 2 decent efforts in maiden hurdles. They could be possible options, but I am drawn to Jelan, who will be getting 7lbs from most of her rivals today.
She was brave for Katie Walsh when she won at Galway and got a little blocked in at Navan last time.
Davy Russel is a positive, and rode her other brother Jetson to Grade 1 victory, and although she’s making her debut jumping, being a sister of Jezki, I’m hoping she inherited some of his slickness over hurdles. I’d rather take my chances with her at a bigger price.
The Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle has the first three home from the Bar One Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the current Triumph Hurdle favourite in Landofhopeandglory.
But beware, favourites have a bad record in this race, only two the last decade have been successful, and the last two victors were double figures, Apple’s Jade at 12/1 and Fiscal Focus at 33s.
Bapaume should improve from his Irish debut, which would bring him closer to Landofhopeandglory, and with Lord Justice finishing second to Cliffs of Dover at Doncaster, that should provide an informative comparison to the UK form.
Mega Fortune could run better today on slightly softer ground and maybe with more pace in the race but I think it will be Willie’s Bapaume who will reverse the form.
The Racing Post Novice Chase has proved an important key for the Arkle and has an honour roll that includes Douvan, Sizing Europe and Moscow Flyer.
It’s no surprise to see Min head the betting, only beaten in the Supreme last season and after a fine display on his debut over fences at Navan, but this is no penalty kick.
Last season’s Fighting Fifth winner Identity Thief, who ran very well in defeat at this meeting last year, has been excellent over fences winning at Punchestown by 14 lengths, followed by a graded success at that track in the Craddockstown.
He’s done more in my opinion and I have a feeling he’s the one we’ll be shortening in the antepost betting.
The last race is a bit more straightforward. Gordon Elliot has won this race twice in three years and runs Midnight Escape today.
He won his Point to Point and then defied 50/1 odds to finish third in a 30 runner maiden hurdle last time. Fly Rory Fly has shrewd owners and is trained by Noel Meade, while Trainwreck is another winner from the Point to Point field.
The rag outsider Baby Bob is the first foal out of a bumper winner trained by the talented Peter Fahey so I will look for market moves but I think the betting has this one right, Midnight Escape could end the day on a high for Gordon Elliot.
Enjoy today’s festive feast of racing and hopefully we’ll back some winners.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing