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  • Southside

The White Flag is raised for Leopardstown festival

Monday, 9th December, 2019 6:00pm
The White Flag is raised for Leopardstown festival

Joseph O’Brien’s horses prepare for the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

The White Flag is raised for Leopardstown festival

Joseph O’Brien’s horses prepare for the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

DETAILS of this year's Leopardstown Christmas Festival that features four days of top-quality competitive racing, have been revealed.

Joseph O'Brien’s all-conquering yard in Piltown, Co Kilkenny, was the spectacular venue for the launch of the 2019 event where the entries for all seven Grade 1 races and the Paddy Power Chase were released.

The highlight of the opening day of the festival (Thursday, December 26) will be the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase over two miles and one furlong.

Joseph’s exciting four-year-old Fakir D'oudairies who was victorious at Fairyhouse last week, is among the 16 entries for the 2019 renewal.

Another big draw will be the Willie Mullins-trained Laurina which impressed on her chasing debut at Gowran Park.

Paddy Power Chase Day, on Friday, December 27, will see a full field of 28 runners facing the starter for a chance at the prize fund of €200,000, making it the richest race of the four-day extravaganza.

There are two Grade 1 races on the second day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. First up is the Grade 1 Paddy's Rewards Club 'Loyalty's Dead, Live For Rewards' Chase which went for export last year as Leopardstown favourite Simply Ned, trained by Nicky Richards, got the better of the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad in a thriller.

While both feature in the 19-strong entry this time, Mullins has certainly targeted the race as a stellar entry from Closutton also includes Chacun Pour Soi, Cilaos Emery, Min, Un De Sceaux and Duc Des Genievres.

The Ruth Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently is another cross-channel entry while the home team is further strengthened by big race winners from the Henry De Bromhead yard in A Plus Tard and Ornua and Enda Bolger’s Ballyoisin.

The Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle is the first of three top-level hurdles races at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins has won the last four renewals and was successful 12 months ago with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Aramon.

The champion trainer has a typically strong entry once again and it includes Blue Sari, Elixir D’ainay and Foveros. But even that might be topped by a Gordon Elliott team which revolves around Envoi Allen, Abacadabras, Andy Dufresne and Fury Road. Joseph O'Brien’s entry includes recent winners Embittered, Front View and Midnight Run.

A real highlight of the festival will be Saturday’s Grade 1 Savills Chase, which was won in tremendous style last year by subsequent Aintree and Punchestown Festival scorer Kemboy.

Trained by Willie Mullins, he ended the season as the highest rated chaser in Ireland and Britain.

He tops the 25-strong entry and could well come up against last year’s second and third, Henry De Bromhead trained Monalee, and Noel Meade’s Road To Respect.

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