ITV Racing Tips: Course specialist Kemboy the one to beat in Irish Gold Cup
There is an absolute feast of racing on TV this weekend with ITV set to show 11 races, having found room for the best of the Dublin Racing Festival within the schedule.
Racing from day one of the fixture at Leopardstown, of which the Irish Gold Cup is the main event, will feature alongside British action from Sandown, Musselburgh and Wetherby.
The Irish Gold Cup is the undoubted highlight as it brings together Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, last year’s race winner Kemboy and former Ladbrokes King George VI Chase winner Frodon.
It will be one of two Irish Grade 1 races being screened with a Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle also part of the line-up.
The key races in Britain are the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, the Heroes Handicap Hurdle and Contenders Hurdle from Sandown while Wetherby stages the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase.
There will be five races from Sandown, three from Musselburgh and one from Wetherby with the coverage beginning on ITV4 from 13:00 and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
With Defi Du Seuil and Bristol De Mai on the race roll of honour, this can be a significant event, as it should be for a Grade 1 race.
Former Hurdle winner Pic d’Orhy got his chasing career back on track with a comfortable success at Ascot last time and is the highest rated on official figures.
He could soon be overtaken by L’Homme Presse who looked a chaser going places when winning the Dipper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day by ten lengths. He has won four out of five since joining Venetia Williams and is unbeaten in three runs over fences. He is a horse to follow.
Ahoy Senor, an impressive winner at Newbury before finishing second behind Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Christmas, has a chance to regain the winning thread.
He is very highly regarded by connections who have gone as far as entering him in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He could be above average, but his jump leaves a lot to be desired.
His Kempton performance was littered with errors and there were mistakes when he won too. A clear round cannot be guaranteed.
On that evidence Saint Palais may be a better option, after completing a hat-trick for his young trainer Richard Bandey at Newbury last time. He is stepping out of handicaps now but is in receipt of a handy 11lb from Ahoy Senor.
Kemboy and Delta Work, the last two winners of the race, return to take on Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo and a rare British raider in the Bryony Frost-ridden Frodon.
Asterion Forlonge who was in second in the King George when he came down at the last is also among Willie Mullins’s four runners. For all his talent, jumping errors seem to be a part of his make-up. Kemboy is a far more reliable candidate, especially at Leopardstown where he has run nearly all his best races.
He was only beaten three quarters of a length by Galvin after a three-way battle for the Savills Chase in December and ground conditions could well be ideal. For an each-way contender Conflated looks the type to outrun his 33/1 odds.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 5th February
13:15 Sandown – 2m handicap chase
13:35 Leopardstown – Spring Juvenile Hurdle
13:50 Sandown – Contenders Hurdle
14:05 Musselburgh – R2m6f veterans chase
14:20 Sandown – Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase
14:30 Wetherby – Towton Novices’ Chase
14:40 Musselburgh – Scottish County Hurdle
14:55 Sandown – Heroes Handicap Hurdle
15:15 Leopardstown – Irish Gold Cup
15:30 Sandown – Masters Handicap Chase
15:45 Musselburgh – Edinburgh National
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.