Delta Work tops the betting for the €250,000 Irish Gold Cup after entries were published for the Dublin Racing Festival, which takes place on February 1st and 2nd.
The three-mile contest is being run under the Paddy Power banner for the first time and received 15 entries in all. Last year’s first and second, Bellshill and Road To Respect are engaged once again for Willie Mullins and Noel Meade respectively. Mullins could also call upon Kemboy, Ireland’s highest rated chaser, and Cadmium as he bids to win the race for the 11th time. Gordon Elliott has yet to win the race but would have a lively contender in the shape of Delta Work which landed the Grade 1 Savills Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Elliott has also entered Grade 1 winners Shattered Love and the long-absent Death Duty, and he could also run Alpha Des Obeaux.
Sizing John, the winner in 2017, and Jett have been entered by Jessica Harrington and another double handed is Henry De Bromhead with Chris’s Dream and Balko Des Flos. La Bague Au Roi was successful in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the meeting a year ago and she could yet represent Warren Greatrex.
There eight Grade 1 races across the weekend and the highlight on Saturday, February 1 is the Grade 1 PCI Irish Champion Hurdle with the Mullins-trained Sharjah, Elliott’s Apple's Jade and De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare Honeysuckle featuring among an entry of 14 that includes the last three winners of the race.
Mullins, who won the race for five consecutive years from 2011 to 2015 with Hurricane Fly and again with Faugheen in 2016, has made four entries. Sharjah leads the way after his Christmas course and distance success and the champion trainer could also run Klassical Dream, Saglawy and Aramon.
Apple's Jade, back to form at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, looks set to defend her title and interestingly, her trainer Gordon Elliott has also entered star novice hurdlers Envoi Allen and Abacadabras for the race.
Supasundae, the big race winner in 2018 and runner-up last year, has been entered by Jessica Harrington. Petit Mouchoir was successful the previous year and is there again for Henry De Bromhead.
The first of the eight Grade 1s over the two days is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘€50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle. A dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles, Envoi Allen tops an Elliott entry of 10 that also includes Festival D’ex, Easywork, Andy Dufresne and Fury Road while of the 12 entries from the Willie Mullins yard, Asterion Forlonge, Blue Sari, Drury, Janidil and Elixir D'ainay catch the eye. Paul Nolan’s Grade 2 winner Latest Exhibition, the Martin Brassil-trained Longhouse Poet and Joseph O'Brien’s Anything Will Do are also worthy of their entries.
Min back to defend title
Run as a Grade 1 for the first-time last year, the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase has attracted an entry of 14 horses, 11 of which are Grade 1 winners. Min is bidding to win the race for the third successive year, and he figures in an ultra-strong Willie Mullins team that is made up of Un De Sceaux, Footpad, Duc Des Genievres, Cilaos Emery, Chacun Pour Soi and Cadmium. A Plus Tard, which added to his Cheltenham Festival success with a thrilling win at the top level at Leopardstown last month and last year’s runner-up Ordinary World could do battle for Henry De Bromhead. Nicky Richards’ course regular Simply Ned holds an early entry also.
Eight different trainers have entered 16 horses for the Grade 1 ERSG Arkle Novice Chase with Henry De Bromhead responsible for leading fancy Notebook which made it three wins over fences at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. He beat the Joseph O'Brien-trained Fakir D'oudairies to land the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase and the pair could clash again in a race where the impressive Naas winners Cash Back and Bapaume, and Leopardstown winner Melon could also play a part for Willie Mullins.
The action on Sunday begins with the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle and 14 different trainers have made entries with Henry De Bromhead’s exciting dual winner Aspire Tower likely to bid for a second Leopardstown success after his runaway victory in the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Christmas. The Brendan Duke-trained Leagan Gaeilge won over this course and distance last month and would be a notable contender along with Joseph O'Brien’s pair Cerberus and A Wave Of The Sea.
Grade 1 winners Abacadabras and Envoi Allen hold entries in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle and the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle and the pair also feature among a strong Gordon Elliott team for the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle. Elliott has made five entries for the race, a figure that is only topped by Willie Mullins who has 12, including last week’s wide margin Clonmel maiden hurdle winner Lord Royal and the more experienced Elixir D’ainay and Janidil. Soviet Pimpernel earned his place in the race with a smooth success for trainer Peter Fahey at Limerick last month.
Battleoverdoyen and Faugheen lead the way for Elliott and Mullins in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase which has attracted 22 horses. Champagne Classic is another in the race for the Meath man while Mullins hand is strengthened by the presence of Melon, Bapaume, Laurina and Allaho.
Minella Indo is a notable entry for Henry De Bromhead and Fakir D'Oudairies gives Joseph O'Brien a chance of recording his first success in the race.
Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said, “The quality of the entries is superb, and we are grateful to the owners and trainers who continue to support Dublin Racing Festival. Once again, the prize money has increased for 2020 to over €2 million which will add to the excitement of this major sporting event.”
Paddy Power Betting on the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup:
Delta Work 7/4, Kemboy 7/4, Road To Respect 4/1, Presenting Percy 10/1, Sizing John 10/1, Chris’s Dream 12/1, Bellshill 14/1, Death Duty 25/1, Alpha Des Obeaux 33/1, La Bague Au Roi 33/1, Shattered Love 33/1, Balko Des Flos 40/1, Cadmium 40/1, Anibale Fly 50/1, Jett 100/1