Five races to focus on at the Dublin Racing Festival

February 4, 2021

€125,000 G1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase – Saturday, 8:35 a.m. ET (1:35 p.m. BST)

Willie Mullins has won the first three renewals of the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase with Min (2018 & 2019), and Chacun Pour Soi (2020) and those two are set to face off again in this year’s running as they look to continue their fine starts to the season.

Min captured the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown for the third time on his seasonal debut, whilst Chacun Pour Soi is unbeaten in two starts this term, which included Grade One success last time out.

Min went on to win the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season following his run in this race and that event is again his long-term target, whilst Chacun Pour Soi is the current favourite for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

CHACUN POUR SOI and Paul Townend jump the last to win The Kerry Group Hilly Way Steeplechase.

(Photo by FocusOnRacing)

€150,000 G1 Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle – Saturday, 10:15 a.m. ET (3:15 p.m. BST)

This year’s contest sees superstar mare Honeysuckle target bid to win for the second year running. Incredibly, she remains unbeaten over hurdles in nine starts and is a hot favourite to maintain that record under regular rider Rachael Blackmore.

Her main rivals hail from the yard of Willie Mullins. Sharjah recorded a third straight win in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and looks a major player along with Saint Roi who was only fourth to Sharjah last time out, but is capable of further improvement.

HONEYSUCKLE and Rachael Blackmore jump the last ahead of Beacon Edge to win the BARONERACING.COM Hatton's Grace Hurdle (Grade 1).

(Photo by FocusOnRacing)

€125,000 Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle – Sunday, 8:40 a.m. ET (1:40 p.m. BST)

This contest is restricted to four-year-olds and is one of the main prizes for juveniles ahead of the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Famous winners include Commanche Court (1997), Our Conor (2013) and Footpad (2016).

This year’s race is of serious interest given the fascinating battle in prospect between French Aseel and Quilixios. French Aseel was bought for €62,000 in July from France and won his first start in Ireland by 22 lengths at Leopardstown in December. He was then sold again in a private deal to race for owners Joe and Marie Donnelly, whose horses include dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, and joined Willie Mullins. He could be anything.

His main rival is Quilixios for Gordon Elliott. He was a smart winner on hurdling debut in France and has since looked a highly promising sort in two starts in Ireland. He backed up victory at Punchestown in October with success at Down Royal later that month.

MIN and Ruby Walsh win the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Steeplechase.

(Photo by FocusOnRacing)

€125,000 Flogas Novice Chase – Sunday, 10:10 a.m. ET (3:10 p.m. BST)

Faugheen brought the houe down when capturing this event at the age of 12 last season – in doing so he became the race’s oldest-ever winner.

Willie Mullins has won this race seven times and looks to once again hold leading claims with the exciting Monkfish. The seven-year-old was a gutsy winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and has gone on to land his first two starts over fences. He currently heads the market for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Stowaway gelding defeated old foe Latest Exhibition on his latest start and the pair will renew their rivalry in this event. Paul Nolan’s stable star captured Grade One honours over hurdles at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival, but is still chasing a top-level victory over the larger obstacles.

CHACUN POUR SOI and Paul Townend winning the Paddy's Rewards Club Steeplechase (Grade 1).

(Photo by FocusOnRacing)

€200,000 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup – Sunday, 10:40 a.m. ET (3:40 p.m. BST)

The feature race of the weekend. The contest was first run in 1987 and features an illustrious roll of honour.

Likely favourite is the ultra-progressive Minella Indo. Trained by Henry De Bromhead, the eight-year-old was second in the RSA Chase last year and went on to win his first two starts this season. Minella Indo started favourite for the Savills Chase at Leopardstown but fell early on in the contest.

By contrast, the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy finished an excellent second in that race when narrowly denied late on by A Plus Tard. He looks sure to go well in again, along with stablemate Melon who was back in third but will be ridden more patiently this time.

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