Willie Mullins took a breathtaking hold of the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, winning NINE of the 15 races stages at Leopardstown.
The Closutton trainer took six of the eight total Grade 1s on offer over the two days, including the Dublin Chase, the Flogas Novice Chase and the Irish Gold Cup.
The action got underway with the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle, with Gaillard Du Mesnil kicking off the string of top-graded successes for the Mullins yard.
The five-year-old, who is now the 7/2 favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, made good headway three out before keeping on strongly and winning easily by five lengths.
Mouse Morris’ Gentlemansgame was too keen at times, but caught attention in the closing stages with a solid effort to take second from Stattler in the final strides.
Chacun Pour Soi stepped up next in the Dublin Chase, making easy work of the field to claim a fifth career Grade 1 success.
The nine-year-old took the lead going into the last before quickening up in the run-in and easing home, and has now been shortened to the 5/6 favourite for the Champion Chase.
There was some concern for Min, who has seen his price for the Ryanair go up from 5s to 7s, after he jumped poorly throughout the contest and was pulled up by Patrick Mullins before four out.
A new novice chasing star at the minimum trip was brought into the spotlight, after Energumene landed an impressive 10-length victory in the Irish Arkle.
The seven-year-old, who is still unbeaten over fences and now an 11/4 shot for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, made all and stormed home in the final stages with minimal effort to give Mullins a hat-trick in the opening three races on the card.
Franco Du Port made some headway in the final stages against the remainder of the field to take a deserved second, while Blackbow completed the 1-2-3 for the 14-time Irish Champion Trainer.
Honeysuckle produced a career-best performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle after seeing off talented opposition and bolting up to win by 10 lengths. Henry De Bromhead’s mare travelled strongly throughout before going clear two out and keeping on well to win easily.
The seven-year-old has established herself as a true challenger to Epatante in the Festival’s Champion Hurdle, with both now being joint favourites at 5/2.
Saturday concluded with another standout performance from the Willie Mullins’ yard as Kilcruit made himself a worthy contender for the Champion Bumper.
The six-year-old, who has seen his price slashed from 10/1 to 6/4 for the Festival’s feature flat race, eased clear in the final furlong to record a 12-length victory in comfortable fashion.
Sunday’s Grade 1 action started with the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, which saw Quilixios put in an impressive performance to remain unbeaten over the smaller obstacles.
The four-year-old, who was making his debut in Graded company, made light work of the field and kept on strongly in the closing stages to win comfortably by five-and-a-half lengths. Gordon Elliott’s prospect saw his price snipped to 6/1 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins’s hot streak of winners continued, as Appreciate It produced another strong performance at Leopardstown to land the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle.
The seven-year-old had to work hard in the final stages, but he easily dealt with the challenge from the imposing Ballyadam and kept on well to win by three-and-a-half lengths. Appreciate It saw his price shortened for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle once again, as his odds were trimmed from 11/4 to 7/4.
Monkfish recorded back-to-back Grade 1 successes over fences, as he made all in an eye-catching performance in the Flogas Novice Chase.
The seven-year-old, who has been knocked down into 10/11 for this year’s renewal of the RSA Chase, jumped fluently and eased clear in the closing stages, overcoming rival Latest Exhibition in emphatic fashion.
The weekend’s feature race saw Willie Mullins record his 11th win in the Irish Gold Cup, as Kemboy landed his first success over fences in nearly two years.
The nine-year-old, who is now 10/1 for the Ryanair Chase and 12/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, made all in the contest and kept on well after fighting off a late challenge from Gordon Elliott’s The Storyteller, who ran a cracker at big odds.
On Monday afternoon, Roseys Hollow sprung a surprise at Fairyhouse as she saw off two talented runners on her Graded debut to land the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.
Jonathan Sweeney’s seven-year-old jumped into the lead at the second last and kept on well to fend off the challenging Royal Kahala and claim a two-length victory. Willie Mullins’ Gauloise failed to get on terms in the closing stages and had to settle for third.
Roseys Hollow was made 6/1 favourite for this year’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, while Royal Kahala and Gauloise sit were pushed out from 5/1 to 7/1 and 9/1 respectively.
M C Muldoon gave Willie Mullins his tenth victory in three days, as the progressing sort claimed his first win over obstacles in a maiden hurdle.
The six-year-old, who has been trimmed into 50/1 for the Ballymore and 66/1 for the Supreme, made a clumsy leap at the last but was able to see off the late challenging Whowinsthetoss to win by three quarters of a length.
Weekend Cheltenham Clues: Elimay now clear favourite for the Mares’ Chase
JP McManus owned Elimay a cosy winner of Saturday’s Opera Hat at Naas
A weekend which saw several key meeting abandoned due to the weather, punters were left with three jumps cards across England and Ireland to engage with over the two days.
Elimay produced an impressive performance at Naas on Saturday, as she landed the hotly-contested Opera Hat Mares Chase.
The seven-year-old made strong headway three out, took the lead from Gordon Elliott’s Shattered Love before the last and went clear in the run-in to win easily by 5 ½ lengths.
Willie Mullins’ mare has seen her price for the Mares’ Chase cut even further, as the current favourite was trimmed from 4/1 to 5/2.
Shady Operator got Sunday’s action underway, as the eight-year old landed the P.P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown.
Enda Boldger’s gelding, who is now 14/1 for the Glenfarclas Cross County Chase, went clear at the last before staying on to win by 2 ½ lengths from Peter Maher’s Blast Of Koeman.
Thedeviliscoachman recorded his second victory in 16 days, as the gelding claimed the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.
The five-year-old kept on well and fought off a late challenge from the progressing French Light to take his third win over hurdles in four starts.
Noel Meade’s runner is a 16/1 shot for the County Hurdle, while he also remains at 20/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Competing in handicap company for the first time over fences, The Big Dog landed a maiden victory over the larger obstacles as he took the €80,000 Punchestown Grand National Trial.
Peter Fahey’s runner travelled well throughout the contest and looked to be cruising when he kicked clear on the home turn.
However, Screaming Colours made up ground late on and produced a late challenge, but The Big Dog kept on well and battled back to win by half a length.
The eight-year old now holds a price of 20/1 for the National Hunt Chase and the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Festival in March.
Meanwhile across the Irish Sea, Wilde About Oscar returned to winning ways after a strong performance in the Bet At racingtv.com Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter.
The six-year-old, who is 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, travelled well throughout and saw off favourite The Glancing Queen in the run-in by 7 ½ lengths.
Three value-priced Irish runners to consider over the weekend
The three Irish runners you need to side with this weekend
With the weather wiping out all but one National Hunt meeting in Great Britain, jumps fans turn to the Irish cards in search for some value selections.
Here are three runners that could hint some value in the meeting across the Irish sea.
UTHRED (2.00 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 9/2 (William Hill)
A bright prospect from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, Uthred makes the step up with a tough assignment on his hands. The six-year-old hasn’t been seen since December 2019, but he has shown his ability on his three starts under rules. A strong second in a maiden hurdle at Cork, he quickened up well on his final outing to win by 4 ½ lengths in a Listed bumper. If Uhtred can continue to show promise, he could easily be in the mix here and take on the likes of Power Of Pause and Thedevilscoachman.
ALL ABOUT JACK (4.00 NAAS, SATURDAY) – 12/1 (bet365)
Colm Murphy’s six-year old may not have caught the eye in his first year over hurdles, but he could take his first rules win here at Naas. He was unlucky not to win at Punchestown after being beaten by a neck and he can be forgiven for being pulled up on his last outing after being found to be suffering from heat stress. However, the gelding could have more to come if his bloodlines are anything to go by. His sire has produced Stayers’ Hurdle winners Paisley Park and Lisnagar Oscar, as well as Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby and dual Aintree Hurdle victor Oscar Whisky. At a predicted price of 12/1, there could be some each-way value if the six-year-old lives up to his potential.
MONBEG NOTORIOUS (4.30 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 40/1 (Paddy Power + Betfair)
A part of the six-strong Gordon Elliott force in the Irish Grand National Trial, Monbeg Notorious could well be a surprise contender for the County Meade trainer. A winner of Thyestes Handicap Chase off a mark of 137 three years ago, the ten-year-old has struggled this season after being pulled up on both starts. But he is now back at an interesting mark and is a strong runner on heavy ground. With further rain predicted in County Kildare, this could be a huge opportunity for Monbeg Notorious to roll back the year and at 40/1, there is some clear each-way value if the place terms are right.
Cheltenham Festival – Antepost Specials to consider for this year’s meeting
Doubles, trebles or outright left field selections of the betting sort, here’s some value prices to take advantage of before this year’s Cheltenham Festival
Antepost betting usually revolves around the win and each-way selections for the Festival, but bookmakers have come up with even more ways to bet on the National Hunt showpiece.
With specials markets now including owners, stables, place markets and even next year’s meeting, there is plenty of value to be found if you know where to look.
Here are some specials to consider for this year’s Cheltenham Festival and beyond.
Cheveley Park Stud to have 5+ placed horses at the Cheltenham Festival – 4/1 (Sky Bet)
Renowned for the talent they have produced on the flat, Cheveley Park Stud have stepped up their game in the National Hunt discipline in recent years and look ready to launch an attack on this year’s Festival. Envoi Allen (Marsh Novices’ Chase) and Allaho (Ryanair Chase) are favourites for their respected contests, while talented youngsters Quilixios (Triumph Hurdle) and Sir Gerhard hold second favouritism in their maiden bows at Prestbury Park. A Plus Tard (Gold Cup) and Ballyadam (Supreme/Ballymore) complete the six-strong squadron and all look destined to perform well. Five of these competitors to place in their selected contests looks achievable.
Royale Pagaille to win any race at the Cheltenham Festival – 4/1 (William Hill)
A horse with clear ability to compete with the very best, Venetia Williams’ seven-year-old sent racing fans into a frenzy last month after easily winning the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase by 16 lengths. The Cheltenham Festival is clearly on the agenda for the gelding, as he possesses entries in the Festival Novices’ Chase, Marsh Novices’ Chase, National Hunt Chase and the Gold Cup. The exciting novice has been tipped to be a major threat to Al Boum Photo should he targeted for the Festival’s feature race, but with connections currently undecided where to send Royal Pagaille, this special seems to be worth some value.
Monkfish to win the Festival Novices’ Chase & The Gold Cup 2022 – 14/1 (Paddy Power + Betfair)
Willie Mullins turned some heads earlier this month when he stated that he had put together his strongest bunch of novice chasers yet. The questions raised by that comments were answered at the Dublin Racing Festival with both Monkfish and Energumene blitzing apart their opponents in emphatic fashion in the Flogas Novice Chase and Irish Arkle. Monkfish has captured the imagination of the racing sphere with his fluent jumping and effortless performance, even though he has only raced over fences three times in his career. The seven-year-old is a real Gold Cup contender in time to come for the Closutton trainer and the gelding shouldn’t have any difficulty in landing the Festival Novices’ Chase this time round. A special to consider if you have the patience.
Abacadabras (Champion Hurdle), Champagne Classic (Any Race), Duffle Coat (Any Race) and Metier (Any Race) all to place – 33/1 (Sky Bet)
It could be considered a high-priced longshot, but this is a seriously interesting price for four talented runners. Abracadabras ran a valiant second in the Irish Champion Hurdle and with last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up being targeted for the Festival’s edition of this race, he could land among the places at Prestbury Park once again. Champagne Classic, who hasn’t been seen since December 2019, is among a wide-open contest in the Cross Country Chase and the former Grade 1 winner could be an interesting contender should he return. Unbeaten novice hurdler Duffle Coat is entered in three races and could be a threat in whichever contest he is aimed at, while Metier caught the eye with his 12 length victory in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle. All four seem capable to at least finish among the places and 33/1 could be a bit of a steal here.
With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, it’s time to get back into the spirit of this grand occasion, and for that, you’ve come to the right place.
With the offset commencing on Tuesday 16th March featuring The Unibet Champion Hurdle, you could be right there experiencing it all up until the final few races trickle through following The Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday 19th March.
Cheltenham Racecourse hosts the most anticipated event of the racing calendar where punters and racing enthusiasts can experience this exciting event from a number of perspectives, whatever the weather.
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The Cheltenham Festival 2021 features a variety of 28 breathtaking races, with 7 per day over the course of the four-day festival. Our race calendar makes it very easy to keep track of exactly what is going on and when.
The highlight of day one will be the Unibet Champion Hurdle with a prize pool of £450,000. Day two sees the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase take place where records continue to be broken.
Day three presents The Ryanair Chase and The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle race, both in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Then Finally, Friday hosts the grand finale in the form of The Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The full Cheltenham race schedule is available right here, from the Tuesday 10:30 gate opening to the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle final race at 5:30 pm on Friday.
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Track all the odds as the Festival approaches ever closer so you know exactly who to look out for and back when the big week finally arrives.