2020 Dublin Racing Festival day two – Sunday’s Leopardstown tips
Jon Vine takes a look through the card on day two of the Dublin Racing Festival and provides readers with his Leopardstown tips on Sunday 2nd February.
Day two of the Dublin Racing Festival features a stellar card, headlined by the 2020 Irish Gold Cup. Along with that prestigious contest, there are three further Grade Ones, which are sure to provide plenty of clues for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.
I’ve taken a look through all of the races at Leopardstown on Sunday to provides readers with my best bets on day two of the 2020 Dublin Racing Festival. I’ll also roll my two top tips into a double for Racing Tips on Sunday.
Dublin Racing Festival Day Two Leopardstown Tips
12:55pm Mares Handicap Hurdle
I find these Mares’ Handicaps unpredictable at the best of times and this card-opening contest is no different. Do you go for a Graded-quality mare – like Jeremys Flame – carrying plenty of weight? Or do gamble on one of the entrants near the bottom of the weights running beyond their handicap mark?
This will be a no-bet race for me, but if I had to take a punt on one, it would be REBEL OG. Willie Mullins is a master when it comes to mares, we all know that. Rebel Og ran a solid race behind Ard Abhainn in a Listed race the last day, she should improve with the extra couple of furlongs and looks well-treated with just 10-13 on her back.
Best Bet – REBEL OG e/w (20/1 Unibet)
1:25pm Spring Juvenile Hurdle
Again, this is probably a no-bet race, as I’m expecting ASPIRE TOWER to win comfortably. Henry De Bromhead’s charge was part of my ante-post Leopardstown tips when he was sitting on 4/6. However, at 1/2, I can’t bring myself to back him again.
Most of those sitting behind him Aspire Tower look fairly exposed, and will probably head to the Boodles Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival after Leopardstown. Never Do Nothing has room for plenty of improvement, despite winning comfortably on debut for John McConnell and could be worth a look each-way. But, to be honest, Aspire Tower is miles clear of his rivals in this race. Another victory here would set him up perfectly for a tilt at the Triumph Hurdle.
Best Bet – ASPIRE TOWER (4/7 Unibet)
1:55pm Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle
As part of my ante-post Leopardstown tips, I put up Easywork as a 13/2 outsider to back in this Grade One. Now the final decs are in, Gordon Elliott’s charge is the 5/2 market leader, and looks a very solid proposition at the head of the betting.
Something which has cast a little doubt in my mind is the ground at Leopardstown. After last year’s debacle, where the going verged on good-to-firm on the Sunday, I was sure grounds-staff would ensure the track would be soft throughout this meeting. As it is, conditions will probably be yielding at best come Sunday, and all of Easywork’s victories have come on juicy turf.
Taking that into account, I’m inclined to take an each-way punt on Willie Mullins’ unbeaten contender ASTERION FORLONGE. The winner of a very competitive point-to-point over two-and-a-half miles, Mullins’ grey fair bolted up on his first start over hurdles. Asterion Forlonge was in with a short-priced favourite of Gordon Elliott’s that day, but dismantled the field to win by ten lengths. Willie’s contender clocked an RPR of 141 that day, despite jumping notably out to his right. He looks to be open to significant improvement.
2:30pm William Fry Handicap Hurdle
Fancied horses often do well in large-field Irish handicaps. Column Of Fire and Silver Sheen appeal most of those at the head of the betting, but watch the betting closely in the build-up to the race, as there’s bound to be a significant plunge.
Sneaking in at the bottom of the weights we find another novice in the form of YOU CAN CALL ME AL. Edward O’Grady’s youngster has run respectably behind many youngsters who’ve gone on to run in Grade Ones, finishing third to Embittered and Jason The Militant. Fame And Glory’s progeny often improve with the step up to three miles and O’Grady, a savvy trainer, wouldn’t pitch his charge into this sort of handicap if he wasn’t sure he would see out the trip. You Can Call Me Al looks especially well handicapped carrying just 9-13.
3:00pm Flogas Novice Chase
Faugheen was visually very impressive in seeing off Samcro to claim his first Grade One over fences. While Willie Mullins’ charge may prove himself an exception to the rule, I can’t be backing a 12-year-old to win a Grade One for novice chasers. Also, Samcro found surprisingly little when he came off the bridle at Limerick, and Faugheen simply had to outstay a fading rival to get the job done.
Faugheen will have to go a long way to outstay BATTLEOVERDOYEN, who has already won a Grade One over three miles and has the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in his crosshairs. Gordon Elliott’s charge was always going to make up into a high-quality chaser, and he’s gone on to secure three straight victories since being pointed at fences during the autumn.
I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed with Battleoverdoyen in the jumping during his early runs in chases. Yet, Elliott’s charge produced his finest round of jumping to see off Champagne Classic in the Neville Hotels over Christmas and Battleoverdoyen looks to be one of my top Leopardstown tips sitting on 15/8.
Just as a side note. Currently, Elliott has Samcro lined up for the Marsh Chase, Battleoverdoyen for the RSA and Champagne Classic for the National Hunt. Yet, Samcro’s failure to see out two-and-a-half miles could see Elliott look towards the Arkle. Victory on Sunday could force Elliott into sending Battleoverdoyen to the Marsh Chase, which would leave Champagne Classic as his leading RSA contender. So, Sunday’s contest could cause a huge shake-up in Gordon Elliott’s Cheltenham Festival plans.
Best Bet – BATTLEOVERDOYEN (2/1 Unibet)
3:30pm Irish Gold Cup
The second leg of my big-race double on Sunday will likely be KEMBOY. Willie Mullins’ three-time Grade One winner looked desperately in need of the run when losing out to Delta Work in the Savills’ Chase. That run coming on the back of a chaotic off-season, where Kemboy was unable to run until Christmas after an ownership dispute.
Last season, Kemboy established himself as the top-dog in the staying chasing division. Mullins’ charge secured impressive victories from the front in both the Savills Chase and the Aintree Bowl. Kemboy then lowered the colours of Gold Cup-winner stablemate, Al Boum Photo at Punchestown, ending the season rated 177.
Kemboy couldn’t find his preferred pitch at the front of the field on his return in the Savills Chase. He was a little slow at practically every obstacle and ran out of steam on the run to the line. I expect Kemboy to have improved significantly between runs and, on decent ground which looks to be in his favour, I think Paul Townend’s mount will be very difficult to beat in the Irish Gold Cup and could be a good Cheltenham Gold Cup tip.
Best Bet – KEMBOY (13/8 Paddy Power)
4:00pm Gaelic Plant Hire Handicap Chase
Ten of JP McManus’ army of handicappers have been thrown into this competitive handicap, and I think it could be worth taking a punt on PORTMORE LOUGH. John Kiely’s chaser was fancied for the Troytown Handicap, but ended up finishing a distant third as Gold Cup contender, Chris’s Dream spread-eagled the field.
Prior to the Troytown, Portmore Lough had won two fairly lucrative handicap chases over 18 and 22 furlongs. Kiely has given his nine-year-old three months off after that gruelling run and he’s fitted a tongue-tie for the first time to try and eek out extra improvement. Portmore Lough will carry just 9-10 on Sunday, thanks to Simon Torrens’ claimer, and I think this lightly-raced nine-year-old has been dangerously overlooked in the current betting.
Best Bet – PORTMORE LOUGH e/w (14/1 Coral)
4:35pm Mares I.N.H. Flat Race
A much more straight-forward puzzle to solve here, with BIGBADANDBEAUTIFUL looking rock-solid at the head of the betting. Gordon Elliott’s mare brings by far the best form into this Grade Two, having bolted up under a penalty to win a Listed contest on her most recent outing.
Jamie Codd’s mount has to give weight away to the field again. Despite that, I can’t see any reason to take the market leader on and 4/5 isn’t the worst price in the world. She will be my final Leopardstown tips of the 2020 Dublin Racing Festival.
Best Bet – BIGBADANDBEAUTIFUL (4/5 Paddy Power)