Bidding to give Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore a first win in the race, the Barry Maloney-owned eight-year-old faces strong opposition from the stables of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
Mullins runs both Kemboy and Melon as he seeks an 11th win in the race while last year’s hero Delta Work and The Storyteller line out for Gordon Elliott.
The Grade 1 action on Sunday begins with the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle and the six runners are headed by the Elliott-trained Quilixios. Mullins is represented by Youmdor, Saint Sam and Ha D’Or with the Killarney winner Varna Gold there for Paul Gilligan and Busselton carrying the hopes of Joseph O’Brien and raceday sponsor, owner Chanelle Pharma Ltd.
A field of 16 horses are set to go to post for the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle. Appreciate It leads the way for Willie Mullins who also has Blue Lord and Mr Coldstone among his six runners. Gordon Elliott calls on Ballyadam, Wide Receiver and Magic Tricks with Irascible representing Henry de Bromhead. Paddy Corkery’s Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner Master McShee and Noel Meade’s pair, Cask Mate and Hes A Hardy Bloke are other notable runners.
The nine runners for the Flogas Novice Chase are headed by the impressive Monkfish for Willie Mullins who also runs Asterion Forlonge and Janidil. Gordon Elliott has both Andy Dufresne and Conflated and also doubly represented is Joseph O’Brien with Fils D’Oudairies and Assemble. But the biggest threat to Monkfish is likely to come from the Paul Nolan-trained Latest Exhibition which chased home the Mullins star at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Mullins again holds the strongest hand in the Grade 2 Coolmore N.H. Sires Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race with five of the 11 runners. Brandy Love, Take Tea, Purple Mountain, Grangee and Brooklynn Glory are a formidable quintet and among those facing up to them are Gordon Elliott’s new recruit Hollymount and the Ciaran Murphy-trained Betty Zane.
A full field of 20 runners has been declared for the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle with early favourites, the Willie Mullins-trained Dysart Diamond, Lady Breffni and Getaway Gorgeous, Henry de Bromhead’s Telmesomethinggirl and the Paul Nolan-trained Mrs Milner all standing their ground.
Similarly, the William Fry Handicap Hurdle has filled to capacity and the 22 runners are led by the Edward Harty-trained Damalisque, Ted Walsh’s Pure Genius, the Oliver McKiernan-trained Unexpected Depth and Paul Fahey’s Ballyshannon Rose, the winner of her last four starts.
Successful in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle at the 2020 Dublin Racing Festival, the Robert Widger-trained Treacysenniscorthy is among the 22 runners for the Gaelic Plant Hire Leopardstown Handicap Chase. Also in the confirmed line up for what could be the most open race of the weekend are the Arthur Moore-trained Crossed My Mind, Charles Byrnes’ Off You Go, the Gordon Elliott-trained Farclas and the Philip Dempsey-trained The Long Mile.
Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “The final declarations for Dublin Racing Festival confirm that the two-day festival this weekend will be filled with quality and competitive racing. We are disappointed that everyone can’t be at Leopardstown, however, we hope you join us by watching all the action live on RTE and Racing TV and engaging on our digital channels.”