The Irish Gold Cup is feature on a stellar afternoon of racing at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, featuring Minella Indo, Frodon and Asterion Forlonge.
Trainer: Willie Mullins Jockey: Bryan Cooper
Talented but frustrating sort who is happier going right-handed. Was all set to finish second in the King George before falling at the last; his stamina ebbing away after chasing a good pace on soft ground.
Has the ability to win, and mostly jumps well strangely enough, but who knows what he could do at any given moment?
T: Willie Mullins J: Sean O’Keeffe
Quality performer over hurdles and fences when on-song, but biting off more than he can chew in this company over this trip.
Has stamina to prove and unlikely to get an easy lead.
T: Gordon Elliott J: Davy Russell
Connections maybe have little option but to throw him in the deep-end now given his official rating of 157.
He impressed when winning a Grade B handicap on his last start over the intermediate trip, but looks to have been harshly treated on that, as he takes a huge step-up in grade. He is, at least, in form.
T: Gordon Elliott J: Jack Kennedy
Can be fiddly in his jumping, but Jack Kennedy gets this best out of him in this department, and his best, when in good form, usually comes at this track.
Started this season uncharacteristically well at Down Royal, but failed to build on that last time out.
Cheekpieces now applied for the first time and of each-way interest if they have the desired effect.
T: Paul Nicholls J: Bryony Frost
For a pacey type of three-miler got a poor ride in the King George, especially given the soft ground.
Is far more effective in tactically-run staying chases meaning the typical Irish style of racing could suit him.
He may potentially face pace pressure however, and the watering of the track and recent rain would be negatives to his chance.
T: Willie Mullins J: Mark Walsh
Grade 1-winning novice chaser last season who has shown further progress this campaign.
Looked better and sharper for his John Durkan second behind Allaho in the Savills Chase at Christmas, but despite the tactical nature of the race, was either outclassed late or failed to stay.
Recent rain and watering likely a negative given it adds to stamina demands.
T: Willie Mullins J: Paul Townend
The defending champion who comes into the race on the back of a fine third at Christmas in the Savills Chase. Had total run of the race there however, and it remains to be seen if he is afforded that luxury again.
If it turns into a similar kind of contest, he has shown time and time again he is dangerous horse under those conditions, especially here at Leopardstown.
Another who could have done with less rain and watering.
T: Henry de Bromhead J: Robbie Power
Last season’s dominant Gold Cup winner at Cheltenham, form which makes him comfortably the best horse in this race.
The problem, however, is he appears to save his best for Cheltenham in March while Leopardstown, in two runs, hasn’t been a happy hunting ground.
Also comes here on the back of being pulled-up in the King George, but his trainers’ horses were hit and miss at the time and that track wouldn’t have played to his strengths.
Robbie Power rides for the first time, and it’s interesting to see how he performs for a different pair of hands.
A tough Irish Gold Cup to get to grips with tactically, which makes being confident on a selection tough. Will Kemboy get another easy lead? Or will Frodon take him on?
Will both be happy to wait in front with each other off slow fractions or will Minella Indo push forward and force a stronger gallop that aids his chance?
There are many questions involving those to the fore in the market meaning a tentative each-way play will go on DELTA WORK (10/1). He too has questions to answer on the back of his recent disappointment, but we are getting a much bigger price.
If the first-time cheekpieces spark him back to his best, at his beloved Leopardstown he could at least reward each-way support, and maybe more in what is a tricky race to breakdown.