High quality fare to sink our teeth into. Kempton’s loss is Leopardstown’s gain. The recent travel ban means we get to see last season’s Arkle winner take on the horse who would be king of the two-mile chasing division. There is also a novice hurdle which could bring some order to the Supreme Novice market.
12.05 Paddy Power 3yo Maiden Hurdle
Ilmig has been the cause of much head scratching at my end. He showed plenty of ability in two starts on the flat. I eagerly anticipated his hurdles bow in Punchestown. His jumping was accurate that day but his finishing effort somewhat underwhelming. He also surrendered meekly, after again jumping well, on his next start. This horse has all the skills necessary to go far as a juvenile hurdler. Hopefully he can begin to put things together here. Dark Voyager is another with questions to answer. He’s greatly feared all the same.
Selection: Ilmig 5-1
12.35 Paddy Power Beginners Chase
Klassical Dream is by far the most talented horse on show here. Unfortunately, he’s also extremely headstrong. It will take all Paul Townend’s skills to navigate the obstacles while wrestling with the horse. Things are further complicated by the lack of an obvious frontrunner. A risky betting proposition at short odds. This trip is on the sharp side for Defi Bleu. He may well take up pacemaking duties. He put in a proficient round of jumping on chase debut in Navan. He looks a solid each-way play.
Selection: Defi Bleu 7-1
1.10 Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase
Hard to get away from Chacun Pour Soi. He’s probably the best two-mile chaser in training and has the potential to rate higher still. A recent tune up in Cork should have him cherry-ripe for this assignment. Put The Kettle on has taken advantage of her allowance in running up a hat-trick in graded chases. She will probably come up short here, but not before offering stiff resistance to her pursuers.
Selection: Chacun Pour Soi 8-15
1.45 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle
A fascinating race tactically. There is no obvious frontrunner. Appreciate It wouldn’t want a dawdle. Ballyadam used his speed to take advantage of just such a tepid pace scenario when winning the Royal Bond in Fairyhouse. Back in third was N’golo. His stamina wasn’t brought into play that day. Given Appreciate It and N’golo are stablemates who would both benefit from a truly run race, I’m hoping the latter will be allowed to stride on. If that’s the case he could prove hard to pass, and rates a sporting wager at a double-figure price.
Selection: N’golo 11-1
2.20 Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle
Potentially very well handicapped horses as far as the eye can see here. Winner Takes Itall, Eclair De Beaufeu and Sea Ducor are a few of the more obvious ones. Last year’s winner The Moyglass Flyer is another. I’m pretty confident this lightly-raced sort has a stone in hand. The caveats are that Mark Walsh favours another horse, and this is the Flyer’s first run for a year. How he goes in the betting relative to his better fancied stablemate could be revealing.
Selection: The Moyglass Flyer 7-1
2.55 Paddy Power Chase
Home By The Lee appeals as well handicapped horse off a mark of 139. His jumping has got progressively better in three starts over fences. The rough and tumble of this big field will test that department of his game but he won’t be running into an Envoi Allen here. The step up in trip looks sure to suit. Dunvegan is similarly unexposed over fences and at this trip. He’s greatly feared.
Selection: Home By The Lee 10-1
3.30 Paddy Power INH Flat Race
Reality Cheque probably ran into a good one on his bumper debut in Fairyhouse. The front two pulled a fair way clear. He can make amends here. Killer Mode can complete the forecast.
Selection: Reality Cheque 8-13
Watch live coverage of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival on Sunday on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 1pm.