The all-weather meeting at Kempton provides the only horseracing action in Britain on Sunday afternoon but hopefully the Irish card at Leopardstown will beat the overnight frost forecast and goes ahead as planned as, apart from a chance to see Vautour once again despite a disappointing turnout of only three for the Killiney Novices Chase at 1.50, we have the opportunity to unravel one of the season’s most competitive handicaps over the smaller obstacles in the shape of the BoyleSports Hurdle at 2.50.
25 Horses are set to go to post for the 100k euro contest but with the exposed Ted Veale topping the weights this looks a below average renewal which can go to the Jessica Harrington-trained Rock The World, the mount of Barry Geraghty. After a couple of promising efforts in Bumpers the son of Orpen has progressed nicely as a hurdler and got off the mark with a comfortable victory in a Down royal maiden last November, a run which was followed with a step up in class for the Grade 2 “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle at Navan later that month.
Although no match for the classy Free Expression the seven-year-old failed to get the run of the race yet still ran with plenty of credit to finish third behind the 144-rated performer. Having his first run in handicap company over tomorrow’s course and distance at Christmas Rock The World travelled well throughout the race but after taking up the running approaching the last made a mistake, giving the advantage to fellow rival Shantou Ed who stayed on to record a length and a quarter victory.
Both horses are closely matched once again but on 1lb better terms and in a stronger run race Rock The World is fancied to come out on top this time at the 14/1 available with the sponsor who are paying out on the first five home.
As in most of these big handicaps leading owner JP McManus hold a strong hand with four runners including British challenger Snake Eyes but the best of his quartet could be Waxies Dargle who can give the selection most to do at the 9/1 on offer – once again with sponsor BoyleSports.
Recommendation – 1 Point ( each-way ) Rock The World: 14-1 Boylesports (220.127.116.11.5.)