Weekend racing preview: Irish action takes centre stage with Dublin Racing Festival

With under six weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival, this weekend’s feature action takes place across the Irish Sea with a brilliant renewal of the two-day Dublin Racing Festival.

By BoyleSports
Friday, 4th February 2022, 12:54 pm
Rachael Blackmore aboard Honeysuckle. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Rachael Blackmore aboard Honeysuckle. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The likes of Honeysuckle, Minella Indo, Galopin Des Champs, Kemboy and Sir Gerhard are all set to be in action, whilst Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls adds more excitement to the mix by saddling Frodon and Greaneteen.

We have taken a closer look at the action by previewing the pick of the action, eight brilliant Grade One events. Make sure to check out the latest horse racing odds.

1.05pm G1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novices’ Hurdle (Saturday)

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A fabulous contest to get us underway. Grand Jury and Hollow Games were second and third in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle last time out and the pair look well-placed to fight out the finish in this contest along with Whatdeawant who was fifth in that same event. Minella Crooner and Bronn both recorded victories in novice company on their latest starts, but remain open to more improvement, whilst Eric Bloodaxe also brings winning Graded form to the table.

Selection: Hollow Games

1.35pm G1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Saturday)

This looks a straight battle between Fil Dor and Vauban. Gordon Elliott’s Fil Dor is unbeaten in three starts in Ireland and oozed class in a Graded event at Leopardstown last time out. However, preference is for Vauban. He finished second to Pied Piper who has since franked the form in stunning fashion at Cheltenham and he is taken to open his account in Ireland with victory in Grade One company here.

Selection: Vauban

2.10pm G1 Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Saturday)

Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the race’s history with seven winners and he has another serious contender in Blue Lord. He impressed when powering to victory at Naas last time out, whilst Mullins also runs Haut En Couleurs and Saint Sam who made winning chasing debuts last time out. Riviere D’etel is a fascinating runner given she gets 9lb from Blue Lord and looks the most likely danger in this event.

Selection: Blue Lord

3.15pm G1 Irish Gold Cup (Saturday)

A brilliant renewal of this event. Kemboy is a former winner of the contest and is deeply respected given his liking for Leopardstown. Frodon is another fascinating contender for British trainer Paul Nicholls, whilst Asterion Forlonge would have finished second in the Gold Cup if not falling at the last fence and he is threatening to win a big event. However, Boylesports ambassador Robbie Power is aboard Minella Indo in this event and he is confident of a big performance from the defending Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. Pulled-up in the King George last time out, Power believes the nine-year-old will be seen to better effect in this event. He commented: “Minella Indo disappointed in this race last year, but it worked well running in this last year before going on to win the Gold Cup and there is a €150,000 for any horse who wins the Irish Gold Cup and Cheltenham Gold Cup – Minella Indo is the most likely to complete the double. He will improve on this run and his form at Cheltenham is arguably 7-10lb better than his form elsewhere. He was disappointing in the King George, but Kempton wasn’t his track. He wouldn’t be the first horse to come out of the King George having been pulled-up and then have successful seasons.”

Selection: Minella Indo

1.20pm G1 Novice Chase (Sunday)

Master McShee would be a wonderful winner for Paddy Corkery who only trains a handful of horses, but Galopin Des Champs looks the one to beat in this event. He produced a spectacular round of jumping to make a winning debut over fences at Leopardstown in December and a reproduction of that effort would make him very hard to beat.

Selection: Galopin Des Champs

1.50pm G1 Dublin Chase (Sunday)

Chacun Pour Soi is chasing his third win in this contest for Willie Mullins and he does look the likeliest winner despite proving bitterly disappointing when last of five in the Tingle Creek at Sandown last time out. However, back at a track he relishes, he should prove too strong for British raider Greaneteen and the talented Captain Guinness.

Selection: Chacun Pour Soi

3.00pm Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle (Sunday)

This is all about the wondermare Honeysuckle. Unbeaten in 13 starts under Rules, she looks tough to beat as she attempts to win this contest for the third year in a row. Along with old ally Rachael Blackmore, she has the class edge in this event and benefits from the mares’ allowance here, getting 7lb from her main market rival Zanahiyr.

Selection: Honeysuckle

3.35pm Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle (Sunday)

Willie Mullins saddles Sir Gerhard who made a stylish hurdling debut when scoring at Leopardstown in December. The Champion Bumper winner at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, he is clearly an exciting prospect. However, My Mate Mozzie chased home Statuaire when second in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse on his most recent outing and he may well have won that contest if getting a better leap at the last. He therefore looks open to any amount of improvement and gets the vote in this event.

Selection: My Mate Mozzie