I’m very much looking forward to returning to Ireland for the first renewal of the Dublin Racing Festival on 2 and 3 February.

Here are a few early thoughts about the big races (which have now been priced up by Paddy Power). Judging by the trainers’ comments it seems that many of the entries are likely to take part. I think that everyone agreed that last year’s inaugural meeting was a great success and it’s perfectly timed for Cheltenham prep races. As was the case last year, there aren’t as many British entries as might have been expected given the prize money on offer. Are the British trainers reluctant to meet their Irish counterparts before March?

Saturday

Ladbrokes Dublin Chase Grade 1 2m1f

The top eight in the betting are:

  • Footpad (8/11)
  • Min (100/30)
  • Great Field (11/2)
  • Un de Sceaux (6/1)
  • Waiting Patiently (7/1)
  • Saint Calvados (8/1)
  • Simply Ned (9/1)
  • Castlegrace Paddy (12/1)

I’m still with Footpad who was collared by Simply Ned when all over the opposition last time out. I doubt that Un de Sceaux will turn up and I don’t think that Great Field is a top level candidate. I expect that we’ll see both Waiting Patiently and Saint Calvados elsewhere, before and/or after this race.

Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle. Grade 1 2m1f

This is an intriguing race. This division is wide open and I’m not yet bowled over by current favourite Le Richebourg (13/8). Knocknannus ran a very decent race at Plumpton when second to the sadly now injured and out for the season Master Dino but the winner beat him having sustained a hairline fracture to a hind leg. Others of interest include Gordon Elliott’s Hardline (beat an unlucky Getabird in December and second to Voix Du Reve (8/1 in this) in November), Paloma Blue and Cilaos Emery.

BHP Irish Champion Hurdle Grade 1 2m

I think that the best way of approaching this one is just to list all entries and current odds. I’m with the favourite but we’ll have to see which ones turn up (could be a small field).

  • Apples Jade 2/1
  • Supasundae 5/2
  • Melon 11/4
  • Laurina 5/1
  • Sharjah 5/1 (serious contender)
  • Petit Mouchoir 16/1 (surely now chasing)
  • Faugheen 16/1 (surely now going for 3m)
  • Saldier 25/1 (not good enough)
  • Farclas 33/1 (as above)
  • Cilaos Emery 33/1 (another chaser)
  • Tombstone (33/1) (just no)

Sunday

Spring Juvenile Hurdle Grade 1 2m

I’ve not got anything to say about this one at this stage so I’ll just give you the link.

Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle Grade 1 2m

It’s the same with the one. Several of these are due to run between now and this race. Here’s the link.

Flogas Novice Chase Grade 1 2m5f

I really like Delta Work for this one. Here are the current odds.

Unibet Irish Gold Cup Grade 1 3m

This could be a great race but the obvious problem is that many of the entries have been targeted elsewhere. It’s understandable because a longer gap before the arduous Cheltenham Gold Cup would seem to be preferable. So I’ll just list the current leaders in the betting.

  • Road To Respect 4/1
  • Al Boum Photo 5/1
  • Bellshill 11/2
  • Presenting Percy 11/2
  • Kemboy 6/1
  • Monalee 8/1
  • Anibale Fly 10/1
  • Total Recall 10/1
  • Shattered Love 12/1
  • 14/1 bar

I’ll be posting detailed previews once we know the actual participants.