Irish Horse Racing Boxing Day Preview : Two Grade One Novice Chase Races the Highlight
Irish Horse Racing Boxing Day Preview
We have three fantastic looking meetings to look forward to in Ireland on Boxing Day, with action from Limerick, Leopardstown and Down Royal. Limerick host their regular Boxing Day fixture with their Grade One Novice Chase being the highlight while it is also the first of four days worth of action from Leopardstown, and just like at Limerick they also have a Grade One novice chase at the centre of their card.
Over at Leopardstown we have a clash between Laurina and Fakir D'Oudairies in the Racing Post Novice Chase while at Limerick we will witness Samcro and Faugheen going head to head in then Matchbook Novice Chase.
Racing Post Novice Chase - Leopardstown 26th December 2:20pm
We have a total of seven Grade One races at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, and on the opening day of that meeting, one takes place. The Racing Post Novice Chase is a race ran over 2m1f and in the past we have seen some real stars take this race before going on to further glory. The field for this year's renewal is very impressive, although it looks as though it will come down to a match between a runner from the Willie Mullins yard and one from the Joseph O'Brien yard.
The star mare Laurina is one from one over fences, beating a very good yardstick in that run Minella Indo. She has always been spoken of as a chaser, and looked very good when making the transition over to the bigger obstacles last month. This is obviously a big step up in class for her, but she looks more than ready for it, and mixed it with the best over hurdles, finishing fourth in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March to show just how good she is.
Fakir D'Oudairies is the main challenger to Laurina, a horse with more experience over the bigger obstacles, although he never hit the same heights over hurdles. He's ran twice in the UK over fences, winning both of them, beating Champion Hurdle second Melon on his first start and then winning the Drinmore Grade One novice chase by 22 lengths on his second start. His other two races over the bigger obstacles came in France before he was sent to Joseph O'Brien, so not really fair to include those. He looks to be a natural jumper, tailor made for chasing and he could well go up to a much higher level over fences than what he did over hurdles.
Grade Two winner Notebook is worth mentioning, and of the other three runners in this race behind the big two, he is the only one who could realistically get involved.
Anything but the front two dominating this would be a surprise though, and of those Laurina is the pick. She was good enough to finish fourth in the Champion Hurdle over the smaller obstacles, and could well be even better over the bigger ones. She looked faultless on debut over fences, and she could prove to be one of the stars of the festival period by picking up a win here.
Matchbook Novice Chase - Limerick 26th December 2:40pm
Limerick hosts racing on Boxing Day and the feature of their card is this race, the Matchbook Novice Chase. They will be thrilled to have attracted Samcro from the Gordon Elliott yard and Faugheen from the Willie Millins yard. Seven go to post for this one, but just like the Grade One action we have at Leopardstown, the front two look set to dominate this.
Samcro appeared to have the world at his feet as a novice hurdler but struggled last season in open company, before being found to have an injury, keeping him out for the rest of the season. He turned his hand to chasing this season, and is one from two over fences. He was very good on debut winning a minor race, with many claiming that he was right back to his best after that. Next up was the Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase, where he was taking on Fakir D'Ourdairies. While still in contention, Samcro fell in the race when appearing to have every chance of either winning or pushing the winner very close.
We have no idea how he would have gone in the race, but it is fair to say that at the time of his fall, a win would not have been a shock. It will be interesting to see how the fall affects him, he is sure to have had plenty of schooling at home since that, but you cannot substitute race riding and jumping, so it is a small concern that he comes here on the back of a fall.
Faugheen is very old to be going novice chasing at 11, a plan that has kept being put on hold for numerous years now. It is probably fair to say he won despite of his jumping on debut, not because of it, and if he wants to compete at Grade One level then he needs to jump better. However, he will have learnt a lot from that race, and that is going to have brought him on, well, it needs to have if he is to have a chance here.
Unlike most novice chase horses, Faugheen has been there and done most of it in the past, he has won a Champion Hurdle and many other Grade One races. He is a horse loved by the fans of the sport, and many would love to see him come home in front again here.
He has to jump better, but with the fall of Samcro last time, taking the short odds on prices about him is certainly risky business. Instead, the ever popular Faugheen gets the vote and is taken to land this Grade One prize.