The Irish horse racing scene celebrates one of its newest members in the form of the Dublin Racing Festival.

Whilst it’s only been around since 2018, the event now attracts tens of thousands or race goers from around Europe in what’s a mightily impressive display of racing.

The fact that the festival is held within the party city of Dublin has likely paid dividends in the popularity of the event.

Even though it’s only been running for a short period of time, it includes 8 Grade 1 races over the two-day festival and with almost £2 million in prize money.

Whilst the festival in its current form is new, it’s actually an amalgamation of several meetings that were held throughout the months of January and February at the Leopardstown racetrack.

The major races from these meetings have been merged into one to create a single “super meeting” instead.

The calibre of racing is second to none and would stand brilliantly on its own as one of the best weekends of racing in the calendar.

But the Dublin Racing Festival is actually a very important part of the jumps season as it works as a vital pre-Cheltenham meeting.

This allows trainers, jockeys and punters a first look at a host of horses that may run well at the Cheltenham Festival itself.

13:20 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m6f

Absolute Notions

– Trained by Gordon Elliott

Lost his unbeaten run when only third at Naas last time out in a Grade 2. That suggests a race like this is beyond him and others have stronger claims.

American Mike

– Trained by Gordon Elliott

An eight-length defeat at Navan last time was disappointing especially as he was strong odds on favourite. He will need others to underperform in order to take this.

Cool Survivor

– Trained by Gordon Elliott

Had looked progressive until he was firmly put in his place last time out at Navan when beaten eight lengths by Hiddenvalley Lake.

Like his stable’s other representatives, this looks a bit beyond him and he may struggle.

Deep Cave

– Trained by Henry De Bromhead

Won an in depth race at this track last time and Ladybank has already come out to boost the form as she dead heated with Princess Zoe just the other day.

He improved for the step up in trip last time and may have the ability to cause a minor upset here.

Good Land

– Trained by Barry Connell

Improved for the step up to two-and-a-half-miles last day. Has won on both completed starts including at this track by eight lengths last day.

The form received a boost recently from Embassy Gardens who won at Thurles next time out. There is certainly room for further improvement and looks the one they all have to beat.

Grangeclare West

– Trained by Willie Mullins

He put in a rather disappointing effort when beaten all too easily by stablemate Champ Kiely last time out at the highest level.

Any horse can have an off day and with his trainers’ record around here, you couldn’t rule him out entirely.

Quais De Paris

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Won in the style of an improving horse when last seen out at Tramore. A three length victory on debut was impressive, but he has been thrown in at the deep end here.

Unsure as to whether this trip will ultimately suit and not as experienced as others.

Sandor Clegane

– Trained by Paul Nolan

He got off the mark at the second attempt over hurdles, winning in fine style at Punchestown. The form is working out well with both Sam’s Choice and Green Glory coming out to win respectively.

The step up to two miles and five furlongs saw him coast to a twelve-length victory and he has to be shortlist material here.

Weveallbeencaught

– Trained by Nigel Twiston Davies

The only English runner in the race and won a maiden hurdle last time out beating subsequent Cheltenham winner Rock My Way by a little over a length.

That form still doesn’t look strong enough but should still make the frame.

Summary

It was hard not to be impressed with GOOD LAND last time out, and he really does look a potential stayer in the making.

Sandor Clegane has always been held in high regard and looks the main threat with Grangeclare West having to atone for a particularly poor run last time.

Weveallbeencaught needs to improve again, but you couldn’t rule out a big run from Deep Cave who could well be anything for Henry De Bromhead.

13:55 Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m

Ascending

– Trained by Henry De Bromhead

Ascending was beaten here over this course and distance last time out where he found the re-opposing Tekao too strong.

Willie Mullins will know exactly how good this form is and whilst expected to improve for the recent run, he may have to settle for another minor role here.

Darraby

– Trained by Brendan Duke

Makes his hurdling debut here today and won at distances of up to a mile-and-a-half on the flat at Roscommon. This looks a bit much for him to handle first time out and he is best watched.

Gust Of Wind

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Makes his Irish debut this afternoon having already won a race over hurdles in France. That win came on bottomless ground at Auteuil and if the ground churns up here, he could give his stablemate something to think about here. An interesting contender.

Jourdefete

– Trained by Willie Mullins

He was beaten out of sight by Lossiemouth when last seen out over this course and distance last month.

Entitled to improve but very much tilting at windmills with this one who is likely to do much better over further in time.

Tekao

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Improved from first to most recent start by beating the re-opposing Ascending over this course and distance last time out.

The form has been tested many times since though and disappointingly, nothing has come out to give it a boost. Likely to still go well but unlikely to trouble Lossiemouth.

Cinska

– Trained by Willie Mullins

A filly who will surely improve with time. She is another French import for the Mullins yard who was last seen finishing fourth to Lossiemouth at Auteuil around a year ago.

Unless she has improved dramatically behind the scenes, it should be a case of déjà vu here.

Gala Marceau

– Trained by Willie Mullins and runs in the colours of Kenny Alexander

Showed a likeable attitude when chasing Lossiemouth home over this course and distance last time out.

She ought to improve for the run but to turn around seven and a half lengths when your main rival also remains unexposed would take some doing.

Very likely to run well and looks the pick for the forecast.

Lossiemouth

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Lossiemouth has been a dream for Willie Mullins and cemented her potential by winning a Grade 2 race over this course and distance just last month.

She had a few of these in behind on that occasion and with further improvement to come, there is no obvious reason as to why the form should be reversed.

The yard have won this race four times since 2016 including with Vauban last season. They know what they are doing and this filly can progress again.

Summary

LOSSIEMOUTH should have things all her own way in this two-mile hurdle. The grey filly has been very impressive on both her starts for the Champion trainer this season and a win here would tee her up nicely for a crack at Cheltenham next month.

There is very little in the way of opposition here, and even at a shade of odds on, the daughter of The Great Pretender looks value for her likely price.

Mullins has an incredibly strong hand here and trains six of the eight confirmed runners.

Gala Marceau followed Lossiemouth home last time at this track and needs to find something extra to reverse a seven-and-a-half length defeat.

She is owned by the connections of the wonder mare Honeysuckle and can follow her stablemate home.

14:30 Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) – 2m 1f

Appreciate It

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Progressing into an excellent chaser as he has won his previous two chases. He is undefeated in four starts at this track and he has to be considered the main contender here.

Having won his most recent race by twenty-one lengths, there is every chance of further improvement to come. The yard has won this race five times since 2015 and now surprise to see them do so again with this classy gelding.

Banbridge

– Trained by Joseph O’Brien

Won the trial for the Arkle at Cheltenham back in November having made a successful chase debut at Gowran Park.

He is a decent type on his day as he showed when winning the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the Festival last season. Whether he has the class to take the scalp of Appreciate It is another matter entirely.

Dysart Dynamo

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Dysart Dynamo gained an absolutely bloodless win here over the course and distance last time.

It should be remembered that he promised to do the same in Grade One company over hurdles last year and fell on both occasions.

Gives the impression that he loses his concentration when asked any serious questions though and scepticism remains.

El Fabiolo

– Trained by Willie Mullins

He won at prohibitive odds on what was his chasing debut at Fairyhouse. He was only just touched off by Jonbon in the Betway Hurdle at Aintree last spring and that is top class form.

Numerous winners have come from the race including the winner, Aucunrisque and First Street. A lack of track form may go against him, but he could well finish closer than what anyone is expecting.

Flame Bearer

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Another who lacks experience around this track but won incredibly easily last time out when beating Francin by thirty-eight lengths.

A talented hurdler who won three on the bounce last season before succumbing to State Man by seven lengths in the Irish Champion Hurdle. Needs to take another step forward here but couldn’t dismiss entirely.

Saint Roi

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Won the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase over this course and distance on Boxing/St Stephen’s Day. He turned over the re-opposing Fil D’Or in the process. He is on the upgrade and is proven at this level.

Visionarian

– Trained by Peter Fahey

Found Grade Three races to his liking last season when winning at Galway and Wexford. Has it all to do to turn around recent form with Saint Roi.

This looks a bit hotter than the races he is accustomed to and he will have better days ahead of him.

Fil D’Or

– Trained by Gordon Elliott

He was turned over when backed heavy odds on in the Racing Post Chase won by Saint Roi. A return to softer ground could see him go closer to reversing that form but he really does need to put that run behind him.

He does act on this track but he just gives you the impression that when the tough questions are asked, he won’t find much for pressure.

Summary

APPRECIATE IT looks to be the most trustworthy of these novice chasers. A class act in his own right, he has only met with defeat on two of his last eight starts and both of those came at Cheltenham.

He knows every blade of grass around this track having won here four times in the past. He has the potential to be a Gold Cup horse next season although perhaps Punchestown version would suit him better.

Dysart Dynamo failed to give his running in two Championship races last year whilst Banbridge and El Fabiolo are open to further improvement.

Willie Mullins knows the type of horse it takes to win this and with Paul Townend having his pick, Appreciate It is taken to extend his unbeaten run over fences.

15:05 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup – 3m

Any Second Now

– Trained by Ted Walsh

A Grade Two winning chaser who should come on from his recent seasonal reappearance at Punchestown where he was runner up in a hurdle race.

Needs this trip as an absolute minimum but he is now an eleven-year-old and hard to see him repelling some of the younger generation here.

Franco De Port

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Always being used as a companion for better fancied rivals is why he has not graced the winners’ enclosure since 2020.

He has been beaten too far in lesser events in this to warrant consideration and is ultimately passed over.

Fury Road

– Trained by Gordon Elliott

Made a winning seasonal reappearance at Down Royal back in November when just getting the better of Delvino.

He then had nothing left to offer when chasing home Conflated in the Savills Chase over this course and distance at Christmas. He has work to do to turn form around with the re-opposing Kemboy.

Galopin Des Champs

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Is the up and coming star from Closutton. He is undefeated in every completed race since March 2021 and had thirteen lengths to spare over Fakir D’Oudairies in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown most recently.

He is a short price for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month and that will collapse again if he takes this as expected.

Kemboy

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Kemboy is an admirable old soul who invariably always gives his true running. He has finished as runner-up in the last two Grade One races that he has contested and his age is showing no signs of catching up with him.

Solid as a rock, he looks sure to be involved again and can make the frame.

Stattler

– Trained by Willie Mullins

Always held in high regard, he nonetheless just always seems to find a way to disappoint. Beaten when odds on last time out, he can be expected to come on for the run.

He is certainly well worth his place in Graded races, but whether that is at this level remains to be seen.

The Big Dog

– Trained by Peter Fahey

A massive step up in class for The Big Dog who had a hard enough race in the stamina sapping Welsh Grand National in December.

If this was a handicap it would be a different story, but he is not as quick as some of these and he will struggle.

Summary

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS should have this field well and truly at his mercy. He jumps for fun and the multiple Grade One winning chaser can extend that sequence here.

He had the stamina and speed to win over this trip as a hurdler and no surprise to see him do just the same as a chaser.

Kemboy has finished as a bridesmaid in his last four outings and can follow his stablemate home here once again. The jury is out on Stattler for now.

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