By the third day of the Leopardstown Christmas shenanigans, the social wannabes, the holly and ivy drinkers, the “must get out of the house after Christmas” crew have melted away, and it’s a real racing enthusiastic crowd that thronged the Foxrock enclosures to enjoy the top class fare at the south Dublin track.
Fog in the UK causing air flight delays meant Noel Fehily was still stuck in traffic on the M50 and missed a winning ride in the opener, Barry Geragthy happily stepping in for Henry de Bromhead on Malinas Jack 8/1.
Barry was fortunate in more ways than one as Diol Ker 20/1 seemed home and hosed for Noel Meade but Sean Flanagan’s mount lost his footing just after the last and had to settle for third place.
The Willie Mullins trained French import Elite Charboniere was sent off at a crackpot price of 4/6, and, tucked in just behind the leaders most of the way by Ruby Walsh, found nothing at the business end and finished ninth.
Given a routine veterinary check after the race at the request of the Stewards, Elite Charboniere was found to be “blowing hard post race.” I should hope so!
De Bromhead was on target in the next too where Rachael Blackmore gave a masterclass on Cuneo 12/1 who was all out to hold 10/1 chance Walk To Freedom – who came from the next parish for Robbie Power – and 7/1 fancy Themistocles who had every chance and attracted plenty of overnight support.
The tempo moved up a few gears for the Ballymaloe Foods Beginners Chase where 3/1 fancy Gun Digger picked up the pieces for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy after long time leader Borderline Chatho and the rapidly improving Bacardys both fell independently of each other at the last.
“We got lucky” Elliott admitted “but he’s a good honest type who jumps nicely and could make into an Irish Grand National horse some day.”
Elliott had much bigger fish to fry in the next when Apple’s Jade gave another superlative display in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle. The 8/13 hot pot led from flag fall and probably had Faugheen well cooked when the latter took a terrible fall at the second last.
Big cheers from the stands when Faugheen finally got back on his feet while as ever Apple’s Jade has all sorts of Cheltenham options.
She’ll go for the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival back at Leopardstown first, and it would not surprise if the Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle was her ultimate Cheltenham target.
She certainly takes the three miles trip in her stride and could have her rivals chasing shadows from an early stage.
It hadn’t been a great day for Willie Mullins – and defeats for hotpots Annamix and Stormy Ireland at Limerick hardly lightened the mood – but suddenly everything came up roses with a superb performance from Kemboy in the Savills Chase.
Sent to the front relatively early when David Mullins decided to inject some pace into the race the 8/1 shot fairly buried his rivals, including some Gold Cup hopefuls, when drawing way clear of the chasing pack going to the line.
The hugely supported Monalee 11/2 ran a respectable race in second with 9/4 jolly Road To Respect – who met some traffic problems – third and Bellshill – a stablemate of the winner – an eye catching fourth.
But really it was one way traffic, and Willie Mullins’ initial thoughts of going straight for the Gold Cup looks an inspired idea.
That said, the 6/1 odds that Ladbrokes chalk up won’t have me kicking their door down in the morning to get on.