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Homeracing

Ireland/Great Britain Preview: Spot Plays for Dublin Racing Festival

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

February 4th, 2022

It’s another fantastic weekend of jumps racing in Britain and Ireland this weekend, with nine Grade 1 jumps races all set to provide major pointers to next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Eight of those Grade 1 races are at the Dublin Racing Festival meet at Leopardstown. This course is best known outside Ireland as the home of the Irish Champion S. (G1) on the flat in September, but the racedays on Saturday and Sunday are every bit as big in Ireland.

Saturday’s Dublin Festival card is the subject of a Rest of the World Bet Back offer with TwinSpires, where players’ first win bets in all races will have up to $10 refunded if the horse finishes second.

So with that offer in mind, here are some spot plays for the Dublin Festival card at Leopardstown on Saturday.

RACE 1: LACY & PARTNERS NOVICE HURDLE (G1)

This 2 3/4-mile lead-up to the three-mile Albert Bartlett Spa Novices Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham is dominated by trainer Gordon Elliot, who has favorites Hollow Games and Minella Crooner. Somewhat overlooked appears to be #4 Grand Jury, who beat Hollow Games home when second to Cheltenham market leader Ginto at his last start. He looks to be a good value bet.

  • $10 win: #4 Grand Jury
  • $1 box exacta: 4, 5, 7

RACE 2: SPRING JUVENILE HURDLE (G1)

Fil Dor is unbeaten in three starts and is the likely favorite here in this prep for the two-mile Triumph Hurdle (G1) for four-year-olds at Cheltenham. However, #6 Vauban makes a strong appeal. Though defeated at his only start, it was by just half a length by Fil Dor’s stablemate and current Triumph Hurdle favorite Pied Piper, a decisive winner in England last week. Moreover, it came after a mistake at the last hurdle.

  • $10 win: #6 Vauban
  • $10 box exacta: 2, 6

RACE 3: IRISH ARKLE NOVICE CHASE (G1)

A 2 1/8-mile prep race for the two-mile Arkle Trophy Chase (G1) at Cheltenham, the race looks to be a good one for #6 Riviere D’etel. She was a close runner-up to Cheltenham favorite Ferny Hollow after three victories and she looks well placed for a big effort here.

  • $10 win: #6 Riviere D’etel

RACE 4: PADDY POWER HANDICAP HURDLE

Rich handicap hurdle races are always highly competitive and this three-mile contest is no exception. One that could be worth a go in this race, however, is #12 Good Time Jonny. He has had a busy season but he has continued to run consistently and might be at good odds.

  • $10 win: #12 Good Time Jonny
  • $10 show: #12 Good Time Jonny

RACE 5: IRISH GOLD CUP (G1)

This 3 1/16-mile steeplechase is normally a solid lead-up to the 3 5/16-mile Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1), and last year’s Cheltenham victor Minella Indo did use this race as his lead-up. But the difference in distance and terrain makes it quite a different contest, and indeed Minella Indo could do no better than fourth here last year. Unlike Cheltenham, this race favors speedy types, so Minella Indo, who is in worse form this year, may struggle again. The race looks made for #7 Kemboy, who won this last year and was second the year before. For exotics players, don’t forget #6 Janidil.

  • $10 win: #7 Kemboy
  • $4 exacta: 7 with 1, 5, 6, 8
  • $4 exacta: 1, 5, 6, 8 with 7

BONUS PLAY – GREAT BRITAIN

Sandown, Race 5, Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle (G3)

  • $10 win/$20 show: #14 Green Book: From in-form Venetia Williams stable, won two on end before losing jockey last start when hampered by a faller. Top rider Charlie Deutsch takes the reins and should go well in this 18-horse hurdle.

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