SO what did we learn for the Cheltenham championships from the Leopardstown Christmas action?
The improving Conflated (170+) was a smooth winner of the Grade 1 Savills Chase and, with trainer Gordon Elliott committing to a Gold Cup challenge, the Blue Riband of chasing is building towards being a vintage renewal and the race of the Festival.
Although the time figure was a few lengths behind the achievement of Bravemansgame at Kempton, the ease with which the nine-year-old won gave the impression he was value for running faster.
Rider Jack Kennedy appeared unflustered throughout the race as his mount jumped accurately before replicating his performance when winning the Irish Gold Cup last season by delivering a speedy finish from the final ditch.
In stopping the clock at 66.5secs from that landmark, the son of Yeats was 2.1secs quicker than Gentlemansgame with the closing sectional forming most of the 3.5secs differential between the two races on the final circuit.
Kemboy (165) has always reserved his best for Leopardstown and ran to his best, recording a time figure the equivalent of when third to Galvin in last year’s renewal, despite looking unlikely to lay a glove on the winner.
Caught the eye
Of those in close pursuit of the 11-year-old for a place, Franco De Port (161) caught the eye as he finished like the second-best horse in the race following a slow jump at the second last fence which cost him valuable momentum.
Gentlemansgame (134+) seized control of the beginners’ chase between the last two fences as he made a successful debut over the larger obstacles.
The seven-year-old jumped professionally throughout and will no doubt rate higher when stepping up in trip.
Largy Debut (114) looked as if he would be better served by going right-handed over a shorter trip while I Am Maximus (126) failed to convince despite having what appeared to be his ideal conditions; he looks one to avoid until he proves otherwise.