The opening race on a card dripping with quality on Saturday at Leopardstown is a 22f Grade 1 Novice Hurdle. 16 will line up at the start and the ground is forecast to be good to yielding on the hurdle course. At a nice each way price Defi Bleu looks interesting for Elliott, Russell and Gigginstown.
|Defi Bleu scoring in good style at Navan.
This 6yo son of Saddler Maker ran a cracker in defeat behind Derrinross at Limerick last time on ground softer than ideal. I think the return to better ground will suit him at Leopardstown, as will the slight drop back in trip. Four of the horses behind him at Navan (20f gd) when he won his maiden have won since. 16/1 looks a nice price and Defi Bleu is the each way pick.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: DEFI BLEU E/W @ 16/1 NB
Apple’s Jade is all the rage for the Irish Champion Hurdle after her exhilarating performance here last time out. However, that was over 3 miles and she may not get such an easy lead today. The drop back in trip has to rate as a huge worry and her last run over 16f in 2016 saw her beaten by Rashaan. At odds of 11/10 she looks too short.
I think that Apple’s Jade is worth taking on with last year’s Champion Hurdle runner up, Melon. He has yet to reproduce the form of that run at Cheltenham since, but he didn’t shape badly here over Xmas. That was his first run back so he should be a lot fitter now and this is his optimum trip. At odds of 11/4 Melon could upset the applecart and he is the pick.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: MELON WIN @ 11/4
A big field of 19 horses will go to post for this ultra competitive 16f handicap hurdle. Charles’ Byrnes progressive 7yo Wonder Laish is the current market leader at odds of just 9/2. He has won his last two, but he is up to a mark of 144 now and if connections are planning a trip to Cheltenham they won’t want his handicap mark getting another bump. One horse who could do with going up a couple of pounds to guarantee a run at Cheltenham is Ivanovich Gorbatov.
|Ivanovich Gorbatov is extremely well handicapped.
This 7yo has failed to fire so far this winter but he has become a dangerously well handicapped horse. Now rated 134, he is 4lb lower than when beaten a neck at Killarney back in August. He was only beaten 3L off 150 at Cheltenham in 2017 and soft ground was against him there in 2018. Surely all roads lead back there for this former Triumph winner but he could struggle to get in off 134. A hike of 5 or 6lb would nearly guarantee a run, so I reckon he will try his best and at odds of 50/1 (6 places) he is the each way pick.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: IVANOVICH GORBATOV E/W @ 50/1
No opinion on this bumper. No bet.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: NO BET
The unseasonal good weather and quick ground means that only six will line up for the 17f Grade 1 Dublin Chase. It is a stacked field though, and a case can be made for most of them. Min is the hot favourite at 4/7 and he should win. However, he isn’t always the most reliable and I wouldn’t be steaming in at such a skinny price.
|Min and Simply Ned lock horns again.
Yet again the bookies have underestimated Simply Ned. He edged out Footpad in a thriller here over Xmas and that was arguably a career best. He loves Leopardstown and has never run a poor race here. It is a pity it is only two places for each way bets, but at 15/2 Simply Ned is without a doubt the value in the race and he has to be chanced each way at those odds.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: SIMPLY NED E/W @ 15/2 NAP
The Irish Arkle Novice Chase over 17f is the penultimate race on the card at Leopardstown. This has attracted a field of 8 runners so at least this one will be three places each way. Le Richebourg impressed a lot of shrewd judges with the manner of his win here last time and he is a worthy looking favourite at 15/8. English raider Knocknauss chased home the mightily impressive Master Dinos last time and he could be a danger at odds of 11/4.
However, I am keen on the chances of a 16/1 shot for each way purposes and Articulum could go well for Terence O’Brien and David Mullins. This relatively lightly raced 9yo has taken a while to show his best, but he was very impressive when beating Campeador easily last time. He will enjoy the ground and though he is a 9yo there could be more to come now his trainer has found the key to him. At odds of 16/1 Articulum is the each way pick.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: ARTICULUM E/W @ 16/1
The closing race on the card is a 17f handicap chase with a field of 15. The one I like in this is R’evelyn Pleasure for Sean O’Brien and Donagh Meyler. This fella has been transformed since going chasing and he has won two of his last three over fences. He lowered the colours of Agent Boru last time and he beat Monatomic by 3L two starts back.
|Chasing has been the making of R’evelyn Pleasure.
A mark of 127 looks more than fair to me and both Monatomic and Poker Party (9L behind) have won since. Poker Party’s win came in a handicap off a mark of 119 and he won by nearly 6L. That says to me that there could be some wriggle room in R’evelyn Leasure’s opening chase mark and he could go well for each way players at 14/1.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: R’EVELYN PLEASURE E/W @ 14/1
Original source: http://gamblingramblingsuk.blogspot.com/2019/02/leopardstown-dublin-racing-festival-day.html