Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott may dominate Day 1 of the Dublin Racing Festival

February 5, 2022

This weekend’s racing feature meeting in Europe is the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse in Ireland.

The South County Dublin venue hosts two days of top-class racing which includes eight Grade 1 races.

Saturday’s four Grade 1 races are highlighted by the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup over three miles. The eight-runner field includes last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, trained by Henry de Bromhead. The nine-year-old son of Beat Hollow will face a strong challenge from the stable of Irish champion jumps trainer Willie  Mullins, who handles half of the runners.

The 2021 Irish Gold Cup winner Kemboy, ridden by Paul Townend, is back to defend his title and comes into the race on the back of a third place finish in the Grade 1 Savills Chase over the same course and distance at Christmas.

He should be the best of the Mullins runners, which also include Cilaos Emery, Janidil and Asterion Forlonge, who despite poor recent form could be included at the business end of the race.

The biggest danger to Kemboy may come from the overseas challenger, Frodon. Trained in England by Paul Nicholls, he defeated Galvin and Minella Indo on his seasonal debut at Down Royal last November. The Bryony Frost-ridden ten-year-old was last seen when finishing fourth to Tornado Flyer in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in England on 26 December 2021.

Willie Mullins’ main training rival in Ireland, Gordon Elliott, saddles two runners in the race, Conflated and Delta Work. The latter was fourth to Kemboy here last year but most of his form since then suggests he will find today’s race a challenge. He, along with Conflated, another  likely outsider in the race, runs in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.

The Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘€50,000 Cheltenham Bonus for Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle over 2 miles and 6 furlongs will open proceedings. The unbeaten Bronn puts his record on the line but will face a strong challenge from both Hollow Games and Minella Crooner, both from the Gordon Elliott barn.

The Grade 1 Racing TV ‘€12 Per Month This Weekend Only’ Juvenile Hurdle over 2 miles should be dominated by French-bred horses from the Mullins and Elliott yards. Grade 2 winner Fil Dor is the likely race favourite, while the unbeaten Mullins pair, Icare Allen and Vadaly deserve a lot of respect.

The fourth Grade 1 contest on Day 1 of the 2022 Dublin Racing Festival, the Patrick Ward & Co Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Steeplechase run over 2 miles and 1 furlong may be an opportunity for the talented mare Riviere D’etel to claim a race at the top level, having finished second to Ferny Hollow here over Christmas.  

Photo: @LeopardstownRC

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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