LEOPARDSTOWN will commence “selective watering” of its chase track early next week ahead of the Dublin Racing Festival in a fortnight’s time.
Watering in mid-winter is virtually unheard of but Leopardstown came under pressure to turn on the taps following last year’s meeting, where the official going was good and there were 22 non-runners on the final afternoon. The ground at Leopardstown was described yesterday as soft on the hurdle and bumper tracks, and ‘yielding, good to yielding in places’ on the chase course.
Honeysuckle is a top price of 2/1 to win the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle at the two-day fixture. The mare is set to spearhead a particularly strong team from trainer Henry de Bromhead at the Festival on Saturday and Sunday, February 1st and 2nd.
Rested since romping to victory in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December, Honeysuckle was this week reported to be in good form by the trainer and on course for Leopardstown. The Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park a fortnight later is another option.
Her stable companions Aspire Tower, Notebook and A Plus Tard could all conceivably start favourite for three other Grade 1 races at the meeting.
A Plus Tard is likely to face a rematch with Chacun Pour Soi in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. The latter’s trainer Willie Mullins also has Min, Cilaos Emery and Un De Sceaux to represent him.
The ERSG Arkle Novice Chase is also expected to see a rematch between the de Bromhead-trained Notebook and Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, who finished first and second in a similar race at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.
Sunday’s card opens with the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle in which Aspire Tower is sure to head the market.
This is the third year of the Dublin Racing Festival and, while the meeting has performed well in attracting racegoers from both sides of the Irish Sea, it continues to struggle to attract the leading British-trained horses. The entries for the eight Grade 1 races feature just five British horses.