Category Archives: Preview

Biggest Chelt Fest preview night 2012

The Boylesports.com Cheltenham preview night is taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 7th March, in the Leopardstown Pavilion. Boylesports.com is hosting this event in association with the Irish Racing Post and Leopardstown racecourse and all proceeds from the night will go to the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association (IMNDA).

The star-studded preview panel on display at this event sets it apart from every other Cheltenham preview night, with the UK and Ireland’s top racing experts sharing their opinion and knowledge.

The panel consists of Jonathan Mullin, Willie Mullins, Tom Segal, Anthony Bromley, Davy Russell and Paudie Hassett.

In addition, this is the only panel on which Willie Mullins will sit in Ireland which means attendees on the night can expect exclusive insights from the Mullins’ yard. Also, more sporting legends such as Jimmy Magee, RTE’s famous sportscaster, known as the ‘Memory Man’ is confirmed to appear during the night.

There is an expected attendance of over 600 people on the night. Tickets are available for purchase on http://www.leopardstown.com and will be left out for collection on the night. Tickets are also available in selected Boylesports shops; Suffolk St. / Camden St. / Parnell St. / Blackrock / Shankill / Bray / Crumlin / Dundrum / Kimmage / Greystones. Pre-booking is advised but tickets will be available on the night on a first-come first-served basis.

For anyone who cannot make it on the night but would like to contribute, donations can still be made by visiting http://www.imnda.ie. A video recording of the night will also be available on the Boylesports website.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse said: “We are thrilled to be involved in this fantastic event. The panel for Wednesday’s preview night is exceptional and promises to provide ample information and tips ahead of the highly anticipated Cheltenham Festival. We are especially pleased that all proceeds will be going to a very special cause, the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association. I would like to thank Boylesports and the Racing Post for organising what will be a wonderful and informative night’s entertainment.”

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Leopardstown slip into Cheltenham mode

Leopardstown racecourse has enjoyed three hugely successful race meetings so far this year; the January Jumps weekend featuring the Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle, the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle and the highly acclaimed Hennessy Gold Cup.

Year after year, these races have provided racegoers with informative clues as to potential winners in Cheltenham. The Road to Cheltenham series invited racegoers to come and see some of the leading contenders go into battle during the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival.

Traditionally this race meeting has been used by many trainers to finalise racecourse work on some of their principle contenders in preparation for hopeful Cheltenham glory and this Sunday is no exception with a competitive seven card meeting.

The feature race, The Carrickmines Handicap Steeplechase at 4pm presents a dozen runners with the weights headed by recent Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup runner-up, Roberto Goldback, while last year’s Irish Grand National hero, Organisedconfusion and the promising Ted Walsh trained novice, Colbert Station, are also in the line-up.

Two more interesting runners are last season’s Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup winner, Follow The Plan, and the Tony Martin-trained Montan, who has been running consistently well over fences and hurdles this season.

In other races, the Ballsbridge Hurdle has attracted seven competitors to face the starter and here the Charles Byrnes trained Pittoni clashes with the Dermot Weld trained New Phase while other interesting runners in a tight contest are the 2008 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle runner-up, Osana, the useful Won In the Dark and the smart mare, Oilily.

The concluding Killiney Pro-Am Flat Race sees the Jessica Harrington trained Jezki bid to follow up his winning debut effort over this course in late January.

Finally, in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Steeplechase, Noel Meade’s recent Grade 2 Navan winner, Donnas Palm is likely to start favourite to follow up.

For rugby fans, you won’t miss the action at Stade de France. Leopardstown will bring a little of ‘Les Blues’ and of course ‘Les Verts’ to the racecourse where racegoers can watch the match on the large screens around the racetrack, Tote hall and numerous bars. There will also be a little French gastronomic flavour to the day with French-themed food offerings including:- ham and cheese croissant with coffee for €5, French baguette with roast beef, brie, onions and blue cheese dressing for €5.60 and finally for the foodie, beef bourguignon with a glass of wine for €14.

After the last race, some of the Cheltenham festival-bound horses will school on the track including; Lucky William, Forpadydeplasterer, Barel of Laughs, Lord Windermere, He’llberemembered, Moon Dice, Becauseicouldntsee, Realt Dubh, Silverhand, Fisher Bridge, Dylan Ross, The Midnight Club, White Star Line, Deal Done, Rick (FR), Chill, Magnanimity, His Own, Quiscover Fontaine, Prince de Beauchene, Allee Garde, Soll, Boxer Georg, Sir Des Champs, Blackstairmountain, Raptor, Up the Beat, Call the Police, Your Busy, Daffern Seal and Merchant Royal.

The schooling will also be shown on the big screen and every horse will wear a numbered saddlecloth, making the commentary easy to follow.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse said: – “This Sunday will be a great sporting occasion as Leopardstown delivers fantastic live racing action and the perfect location for the sport enthusiast to watch the Rugby, our caterers are have come up with French-themed food offering too. It should be a fascinating day when opinions and tips will be flying right, left and centre. Quite simply it is the perfect pre-Cheltenham experience.”

Mullins lining them up for Navan this Sunday

Willie Mullins trains six of the 15 entries in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle, the feature event, of what promises to be an intriguing card at Navan this Sunday 15th February.

Zaidpour, a course winner over two and a half miles before Christmas, has looked back to the form this term that saw him win the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle early last season, defeating last year’s Boyne Hurdle winner Voler La Vedette in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle last time and now seeking to complete a four-timer.

Mikael D’Haguenet, also coming off a hat-trick of successes, won the Grade 1 Barry & Sandra Kelly Novice Hurdle around here in the past and he along with Final Approach and Zaidpour all hold engagements in both the Champion and World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Mourad filled the runner up berth to War Of Attrition in a thrilling Boyne Hurdle back in 2010, while Mullins is also represented by Cousin Vinny, the first to complete the Cheltenham/Punchestown Champion Bumper double back in 2008, who could make a welcome return to action on Sunday after a 669-day absence.

Mouse Morris is double handed in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase with Four Commanders and the hat-trick seeking Rathlin and he said: “I’d say one of them will run, but I am not sure which one yet. I’ll know a bit more later in the week.”

Medical Card and Crash, who fought out a great finish in the Grade 2 Woodlands Novice Chase at Naas last month are other interesting contenders.

Gift Of Dgab, runner up to Flemenstar in the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown last month, could represent Tony Martin and Gigginstown House Stud in the Grade 2 Flyingbolt Chase.

The first race is off at 1:50pm and general admission is €15.00 and €10.00 for seniors. There are dining packages available at €55.00 per person and the Sports Bar Package is priced at €20.00 (includes admission, access to VIP Bar, racecard, €5.00 Tote Betting Voucher and music after racing). Pre-booking is essential.

World Hurdle entries headed by Big Buck’s

Big Buck’s features among 34 entries for this year’s £260,000 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle as he bids to capture the three-mile championship contest for a record fourth consecutive time at The Festival on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 15.

A total of 11 Irish-trained entries include eight possible runners from the stable of Willie Mullins, headed by dual Grade One winners Thousand Stars and Quevega, Mourad, So Young, Zaidpour and Mikael d’Haguenet, plus the Colm Murphy-trained Voler La Vedette, who has won her latest three starts impressively.

However, Big Buck’s is unbeaten in 14 starts over the smaller obstacles since contesting the Hennessy Gold Cup in November, 2008, and looked as good as ever when sauntering to a comprehensive eight-length success on his latest start in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 17.

His trainer Paul Nicholls is considering letting Big Buck’s take his chance in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle over three miles on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on January 28 in preparation for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. If the nine-year-old were to capture both races, he would equal the record for consecutive wins over jumps in Britain set by three-time Champion Hurdle winner Sir Ken, who recorded 16 straight victories in the 1950s.

Big Buck’s is rated a 4/7 chance for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with the race sponsor, which has Oscar Whisky, also entered in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, as the 4/1 second favourite. The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old has yet to race over three miles but boasts some excellent form over shorter distances, including a fine third in last year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle and a facile success over an extended two and a half miles on his latest start at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Restless Harry was ninth behind Big Buck’s in last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle but Robin Dickin’s stable star posted an excellent performance when comprehensively winning a Grade Two Hurdle at Wetherby in October. The eight-year-old subsequently made the frame in two starts over fences before returning to hurdles to finish third behind Big Buck’s at Ascot in December.

Dickin revealed: “The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is on the radar for Restless Harry and we will make a decision whether to keep him over hurdles or return to chasing in due course.

“He will probably be entered in the Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham and he could go for the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase on the same card. If he didn’t run there, I might look at the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock instead.

“He never runs a bad race and his Wetherby run at the start of the season was astonishing. I am not quite sure what that was about so I am not sure how to recreate it – I would have thought that the run would have brought him on.

“Going chasing isn’t off the agenda with him but the season is getting on and there are such huge prizes on offer with the long-distance hurdles. He got a little bit chopped coming round the top turn in last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle and I think that he has improved slightly since then.”

Boylesports day at Punchestown

Sunday’s Boylesports.com Chase Day at Punchestown is sizing up to be a great sporting event with both Sizing Europe and Big Zeb confirmed for the feature race of the day.

The much anticipated clash of the top two-mile chasers goes to post in the Grade 2 Boylesports.com Tied Cottage Chase at 2.55pm and with only one other challenger in the form of Oliver Brady’s Imperial Shabra.

Last season Sizing Europe appeared the dominant force of the two when landing the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March only to be overturned by Big Zeb in a thriller at the Punchestown Festival in a race also sponsored by Boylesports. So far this season both have impressed on their respective outings although this will be their first meeting of this campaign.

Sunday’s quality seven race card is considered a Cheltenham trials day with one of only two Irish run Pertemps Hurdle qualifiers, the Grade 2 Racing UK Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle and the spectators’ favourite, the Glenfarclas PP Hogan Cross Country Race taking place.

Commenting on the effects of the current cold snap Punchestown racing manager Richie Galway said: “The covers have been down since Tuesday. It’s a labour intensive initiative but if it is the difference between racing going ahead or being abandoned it is well worth the effort. It takes a team of 20 men a full day to get the covers into position. Galway continued by saying “The hurdle and chase tracks are currently raceable and we are confident, based on the forecast, that there won’t be any problems for Sunday. The cross-country track is run over such an expanse it is not feasible to cover it. At present there are a small number of areas that are unraceable, however, if the milder temperatures arrive as forecast and given that we have moved the race to late in the day we are very hopeful”.

Directly after presentations are made to the winning connections of the Boylesports.com Chase full televised coverage of the RBS six nations match between Ireland and Wales will be available throughout the enclosures.

In addition to top-class racing action there will also be a full schedule of family entertainment with The Eadestown Spring Show running alongside the sporting action. Kildare GAA star Emmet Bolton will be on hand to take part in a penalty shoot- out with some of the top jockeys in the parade ring. A full craft fair and field day games programme will be underway in the trackside unit with all proceeds going to the Eadestown GAA and Parish Fund.

Official prices from Boylesports.com for the Boylesports.com Tied Cottage Chase:
4/6 Big Zeb
5/4 Sizing Europe
100/1 Imperial Shabra

The first of seven races goes to post at 1.20. Admission is just €10 or €7 students and seniors. All children under 14 race for free.

Apt is the Approach to take in Kinloch Brae at Thurles

It’s the highlight of Thurles’ year on Thursday – the day two Graded races come to the Tipperary town.
Just five line up for the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase, but it’s a quality field.

Last year’s winner of this race is bidding for more success after his tremendous victory in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown last May. He wasn’t firing on all cylinders on his seasonal bow at Leopardstown in the Lexus Chase (finished 6th) but is sure to come on from that blow out.

The Willie Mullins yard is in terrific form of late, and his Apt Approach, under Ruby Walsh, is sure to go off favourite. The nine-year-old is bidding for a hat-trick following success here over three miles in November and then beat Tranquil Sea over two miles and five furlongs at Tramore on New Year’s Day. The trip, track and ground should all suit this well-regarded chesnut, and he holds an entry in the GRade A handicap chase at Leopardstown at the end of the month, as well as the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.

Roberto goldback has lost his way recently, his only victory in the last two years coming on good ground at Cork last April. However, he did run reasonably well behind Synchronised in the Lexus last month and if improvement is forthcoming, he’ll give Apt Approach something to think about.

Arabella Boy is the outsider of the quintet but even he has good form beside his name, having landed a beginners’ chase at Fairhouse 11 months in gutsy fashion. He was in terrific form throughout 2010 and for the early part of 2011, regularly placing over distances of two miles to two and three quarters of a mile. The two and a half-mile trip on Thursday should pose no problems, and he should be able to handle the soft track. However, on ratings, he is up against it competing with some classy individuals.

Follow The Plan has a good shout on his drop back in trip under Tom Doyle. The Fonze completes the field, though he’ll struggle to cope with the conditions.

RECOMMENDATION: Apt Approach is the one to side with. Grab any odds-against you can find.

What do you think of the race? Who will win it?