Leopardstown – Thursday 29th December
Nap of the meeting – Our Duke (1.55)
12.20 – I Knew Well – Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase – Win
I Knew Well has run two good races since returning from a five month absence and should go well again. He ran a blinder on his first run back when third to Effernock Lad at Naas in November and built on that when a winner from that same rival at Fairyhouse at the beginning of this month. He runs off an 8lbs higher mark here but is taken to score from early favourite Katnap who tops the weights and has been absent since finishing down the field in a far better race at the Punchestown festival in April. He has his first start for Joseph O’Brien here and might prove a bigger danger to the selection than Futuramic who is back over fences after going close over the smaller obstacles at Navan last time. The Conker Club beat Courtncatcher to win at Thurles two weeks ago and both can be given a chance too.
Exacta – 5-1
Trifecta – 5-1-2
12.50 – Battleford – Guinness Maiden Hurdle – Win
Battleford flopped on his hurdling debut at Navan a month ago but is readily given a second chance. Running for the first time since April, he was sent off a 1/3 favourite to win at Navan but was beaten coming away from the third last hurdle and could only finish a moderate fourth to Brelade. However, the form of the race is working out well and he is entitled to improve. It is worth remembering that he was a top-class bumper performer and he should have the measure of Coeur Joyeaux and New To This Town who will both need to improve on recent efforts. Jack Dillinger is likely to be next best ahead of Pack The Punch.
Exacta – 1-5
Trifecta – 1-5-8
1.20 – Let’s Dance – Grade 3 Willis Towers Watson E.B.F. Mares Hurdle – Win
Let’s Dance should be better than these and can complete a hat-trick of wins. She chased home Apple’s Jade in a Grade 1 hurdle at Punchestown at the end of April and went on to win as she liked at Sligo a few weeks later. She made a winning return when beating subsequent winner Shattered Love at Punchestown five weeks ago and should be too good for her fellow four-year-old Slowmotion who is back over hurdles after falling at the first fence in a beginners’ chase at Wexford last month. She carries a penalty for her win in a Grade 2 event at Fairyhouse last March but might still chase the selection home ahead of Daisy’s Gift who won that Wexford race but was a faller in a better chase at Cork earlier this month.
Exacta – 6-1
Trifecta – 6-1-3
1.55 – Our Duke – Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase – Each/Way
Our Duke might not be far away. A fair novice hurdler last season, he ran out a pretty impressive winner on his chasing debut at Navan earlier this month and can improve again. That was his first start March and while the runner-up, Gwencily Berbas, did nothing for the form here yesterday, it was a taking performance nonetheless. The selection looks to hold Prince Of Scars on that run and a far bigger danger should come from Coney Island who had Alpha Des Obeaux and A Toi Phil behind him when landing the Grade 1 Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse. Martello Tower looked good when stepping back up in distance at Fairyhouse last time and the extra couple of furlongs here will only strengthen his hand.
Exacta – 9-5
Trifecta – 9-5-8
2.30 – Nichols Canyon – Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle – Win
Nichols Canyon could hardly have been more impressive when taking the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown five weeks ago and he is the one to beat as he bids to win this race for the second year in a row. He slammed this afternoon’s rival Jer’s Girl at Punchestown and also has the beating of Ivanovich Gorbatov on that excellent run. A bigger threat could come from Petit Mouchoir who fell three hurdles from home in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle last month. It was some way from home, but he appeared to be travelling well at the time and it had the makings of an improved performance.
Exacta – 1-2
Trifecta – 1-2-5
3.05 – Bilko – Top Oil E.B.F. Novice Handicap Hurdle – Win
Bilko has done little wrong in four starts and might record a second career victory. He just lost out to this afternoon’s rival Stretchingthetruth in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in October where he didn’t help himself when ducking badly to his left as the raced to the final flight. He made no mistake next time out when a winner at Cork and then had Exactoris, Clonalig House and William B in behind him when third in a novice hurdle at Fairyhouse at the beginning of the month. Hopefully the experience will stand to him and he can now turn the tables on his Punchestown conqueror who ran no race in a Grade 3 at Navan on his second start over hurdles but can’t be as bad again. Brave Out won well at Tramore and is of some interest while First To Boogie is certainly another to note after three good recent efforts at Punchestown.
Exacta – 3-2
Trifecta – 3-2-6
3.35 – Quick Grabim – Donohoe Marquees Flat Race – Win
Quick Grabim ran a nice race on his debut at Cork last month and might just be the solution to this winners’ event. He was clear of the remainder when going close behind the well-regarded and long odds-on favourite Monbeg Worldwide that day and can build on that promising effort. Burren Life did well on his racecourse debut at Punchestown two weeks ago and he too is entitled to improve. Arctic Light has had two starts and after winning on his initial outing at Punchestown in October, chased home Samcro at the same venue the following month. His penalty will make things difficult for him here but he can take third place at the expense of Flirting Lisa and Line Out.
Exacta – 5-2
Trifecta – 5-2-1
Limerick – Thursday
Nap of the meeting – Penhill (1.45)
12.05 – Pylonthepressure – Racing Post Maiden Hurdle – Win
Pylonthepressure has been expensive to follow but he is likely to get back to winning ways here. He has been a beaten odds-on favourite on each of his three starts over hurdles and went down at a price of 1/3 at Clonmel earlier in the month but that was his first outing since January and he deserves one final chance. Mighty Stowaway was running for the first time since March when second to Baltazar D’Allier at Naas last month and any improvement might see him home in second place again ahead of Moroval who appears for the first time since July. Kilcrea Bridge has a longer absence to overcome.
Exacta – 3-8
Trifecta – 3-8-9
12.35 – Benie Des Dieux – Limerick Racecourse Vets Mares Beginners Chase – Win
Benie Des Dieux got a favourable mention from his owner when interviewed on television yesterday and is likely to make her first start in Ireland a winning one. She won twice over hurdles in France and was placed in a Grade 3 contest on her last start in November of last year and will be winning this if too good for Keppols Queen who has three runs over fences to her name and has finished runner-up to a Willie Mullins inmate on her last two starts. Next best should be Monbeg Rose who was behind Keppols Queen at Wexford in November and was no match for Kalopsia over hurdles at Thurles last time out.
Exacta – 1-4
Trifecta – 1-4-7
1.10 – Inis Meain – Ladbrokes Rated Novice Chase – Win
Inis Meain is just preferred. Although well beaten over hurdles at Navan, he had earlier done well over fences when runner-up to Jetstream Jack at Tipperary and when third to Three Stars and Ball D’Arc at the Listowel festival. He might just have the measure of Crest who ran his best race over fences when second to Total Recall at Navan a little over a week ago and who makes more appeal than both Georges Conn and Undressed.
Exacta – 5-2
Trifecta – 5-2-3
1.45 – Penhill – Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle – Win
Penhill is an intriguing runner. Successful at Tramore and the Galway festival, he landed a Grade 3 event at Tipperary in early October and ran a fine race in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier this month where he was the pick of Ruby Walsh and perhaps didn’t enjoy the best of luck in running. Runner-up Saturnas has done his bit for the form of that race and while Penhill was only fourth, it was another notable effort. Trying this trip for the first time, he gets the nod over Rathnure Rebel who added to his runaway success at Clonmel in November when an equally impressive winner of a Grade 3 at Cork last time. He is sure to make this a test of stamina from the front and can also see off the selection’s stable companion Livelovelaugh who was beaten a fair way when fourth at Navan a month ago on his first start since May.
Exacta – 1-2
Trifecta – 1-2-5
2.20 –Mardar – Ryans Cleaning Handicap Hurdle – Each/Way
Mardar might be up to making a winning return. He ran his best race when third of 20 behind the well-fancied Spider Web when last seen at Tipperary in May and a repeat of that performance could see him home. Conna Cross was a beaten favourite here on Tuesday but the step back up in trip might be of help. He had earlier finished ahead of Wee Small Hours when third at Clonmel earlier in the month. Shrewdoperator missed out when a reserve here yesterday and also makes some appeal while Kilderry Prince is possibly another to note as he goes back over hurdles after a fair effort over the larger obstacles at Tramore.
Exacta – 6-2
Trifecta – 6-2-9
2.50 – Simple Steps – Frank Hogan Mercedes Benz Limerick Handicap Hurdle – Each/Way
Simple Steps can reach the frame at least. She has two good recent runs over fences to her name and her effort when second best behind Smadynium at Clonmel has a fair look to it. The Living Beauty was well-backed when a narrow winner over fences at Tramore two weeks ago and will be on every short-list while Moores Road will also have his supporters after finishing a clear second behind Some Neck in a maiden hurdle here two days ago. Edvardo was a winner here in March and is another to be mindful of.
Exacta – 11-6
Trifecta – 11-6-8
3.20 – Minella Fair – Irish Field INH Flat Race – Win
Minella Fair can confirm Navan form with Castlegrace Paddy to land this. He was running for the first time in a year when runner-up to Magic Of Light that day and had 14 lengths to spare over the fourth-placed Castlegrace Paddy who was also making his seasonal reappearance. He went on to finish runner-up to the promising Dr Wallace at the same venue earlier this month and should take all the beating. Castlegrace Paddy improved on that bumper outing when chasing home Minella Till Dawn over hurdles at Fairyhouse and should be second best again at the main expense of Isodon who is likely to improve on his debut run over hurdles at Navan late last month.
Exacta – 5-2
Trifecta – 5-2-11
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