With Cheltenham Trials Day over and done with, attention turns to the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend and the Off The Fence team are on-hand to preview a stellar weekend of racing at Leopardstown.
Host Vanessa Ryle is joined by regular guests Barry Geraghty and Tony Keenan as they look ahead to the Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase as well as the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle.
The panel also look back at an excellent day of racing at Cheltenham last weekend and discuss the potential runners in the Irish Gold Cup.
‘Jetara has a leading chance’
Saturday’s Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle (1.20) sees Jetara set to face off against Willie Mullins’ trio of Predators Gold, Loughalynn and I Will Be Baie – all of whom have been positioned towards the head of the market by the bookmakers.
Tony Keenan said: “I think Jetara has a leading chance of winning this. This tends to be one of the weaker races over the few days and not always one that throws up the Cheltenham Festival winners that some of the others would.
“She had plenty of experience over hurdles last season but failed to win, but this season has come back a better mare – which isn’t surprising given she’s from the family of Jezki and Jetson who both improved with time. It’s the first time she’s stepped up beyond two-and-a-half miles which I think will definitely suit her, and I was really impressed with her around Christmas when she won the Mares’ Hurdle so easily.
“The one pity is I presume Jack Kennedy, who had the ride on her in her three wins this season, won’t be on board because I’m sure Gordon Elliott will have something for him, but I think she can go well in that race anyway.”
‘A little bit of value’
The Grade One McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.50) is dominated by entries from Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, with the two Irish trainers accounting for 14 of the 22 runners in the nine-hurdle contest.
Unsurprisingly, Barry Geraghty is backing Mullins to bring home the €88,500 prize fund, although not through the current favourite Storm Heart.
Geraghty said: “The one I like is Kargese who was only three parts of a length behind Kala Conti at Leopardstown over Christmas but ran very, very keen throughout the race. He went a little bit steady and that didn’t help, but you’d like to think that in a better race with better pace, he could relax. I think there’s more to come from Kargese and there could be a little bit of value in an open race.”
What about the rest?
Geraghty said: “What I’m really looking forward to is the novices. Obviously Marine Nationale in the two-miler is a standout, but where will Gaelic Warrior go? The prices at the minute suggest he’s more likely to go for the two-miler than the two mile and five, which leaves the question where does Fact To File go? Could Facile Vega go two mile and five as well? There’s a lot of smart novice chasers, really.”
Keenan said: “I think they’re going to develop into Mullins winning them all, and possibly at short prices. Historically it has been a very good meeting for the short-priced punter, although not so much last year when Lossiemouth, Appreciate It and Facile Vega were beaten.
“If you are thinking of having a bet maybe wait until declarations. If all Mullins’ big ones don’t run [in the Irish Gold Cup] there might not be an awful lot left.”
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