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Cheltenham Festival: Dublin Racing Festival

Chacun Pour Soi the biggest eyecatcher on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival, with Cheltenham’s four day extravaganza in mind.

Leopardstown staged a hugely informative Dublin Racing Festival at the weekend. Many of the top Irish chasers and hurdlers competed for the eight Grade 1 contests taking place over the two days, including plenty of the leading contenders for next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

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Day 1 Highlights

The opening Grade 1 novice hurdle went to the Paul Nolan-trained Latest Exhibition who stayed on strongly over the 2m 6f trip to see off a decent field of novices, earning a top quote of 8/1 with ladbrokes for the 3m Albert Bartlett at the festival.

Chacun Pour Soi ran out the most impressive winner of the day, seeing off stablemate Min in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. The eight-year-old put in an excellent round of jumping and improved significantly for his seasonal reappearance over Christmas. A best price 3/1 with Paddy Power and Betway for the Champion Chase, the gelding has already beaten favourite Defi Du Seuil and may be the one to take the two mile crown away from Altior.

Notebook kept his unbeaten record over fences when coming home three quarters of a length in front of Cash Back in the ERSG Arkle Novice Chase. With Melon and Bapaume failing to show anything like their best form, the 3/1 available about the winner with Betfair Sportsbook for Cheltenham’s Racing Post Arkle makes little appeal, despite Notebook’s excellent jumping ability.

Honeysuckle is now a top price 6/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral for the Champion Hurdle after winning the PCI-sponsored version. Despite enjoying the 7lb sex allowance, the mare made hard work of landing the odds, beating outsider Darver Star by only half a length. With main rival Sharjah failing to perform, holes can be picked into the value of the form. Connections have yet to decide between the championship contest and the Mares’ Hurdle.

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Day 2 Highlights

Aspire Tower was expected to enhance his Triumph Hurdles claims with a victory in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. The ⅓ favourite was in the lead when falling at the final flight, but was being strongly pressed by eventual third Cerberus. Aspire Tower can now be backed at 8/1 with Unibet and Betway for the Triumph, while the winner, A Wave Of The Sea, is a 16/1 chance with bet365. Connections of 5/1 joint favourites Goshen and Allmankind, are hardly likely to have sleepless nights following this average trial.

Willie Mullins’ Asterion Forlonge earned quotes of 6/1 with bet365 and Betfred for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when making all to win the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle. The grey is a tremendous prospect but will need to iron out his tendency to jump right at times if he is to keep his unbeaten record at the festival.

The Flogas Novice Chase looked a match between Faugheen and Battleoverdoyen, and that’s how it seemed for most of the race. The latter jumped well in the lead, but was never more than a couple of lengths in front of his main market rival. Turning for home the distress signals were being sent out on Gordon Elliott’s charge who was a beaten horse when falling at the last. It was left to the Willie Mullins pair of Faugheen and Easy Game to fight out the finish, with the popular 12-year-old just getting the better of the battle by half a length. At the 33/1 available with Betfair Sportsbook, the runner-up looks overpriced for the RSA Chase, should connections decide to take that route.

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The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup proved a significant trial for the championship contest on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. The three principles, Kemboy, Delta Work and Presenting Percy all held every chance jumping the last fence, but it was Jack Kennedy’s mount who stayed on the strongest, the 5/2 chance putting a length and a half between himself and 5/4 favourite Kemboy, with Presenting Percy three and a quarter lengths back in third. The trio are expected to renew rivalry at the festival for which Delta Work is a 6/1 chance with Betvictor, while Kemboy makes plenty of appeal at the 8/1 on offer with Boylesports.

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