GROUND conditions started off not especially demanding at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day, especially over fences, but soon got much softer, though measuring these things is not the easiest when there are significant rail movements.

The Racing Post Novice Chase was the sole Grade 1 on that opening day. It seemed to fall apart somewhat – with slowish late sectionals, Blackbow departing early and Felix Desjy looking a rather difficult ride – and Franco De Port surged through from the rear to beat Darver Star.