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Closutton, Bagenalstown, Carlow, Ireland
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Leopardstown 29th December

We have two runners in the 2m 4f maiden hurdle. Embassy Gardens (Sean O’Keeffe) was second over 2 miles on his hurdling debut at Cork last month. He will appreciate the extra half a mile today. Any more rain would also help his chance. Paul has opted for Madmansgame and that could be a tip in itself. He won a point to pint and jumps well. This trip won’t be a problem and he should run a big race. The softer the ground the better.

We also run two in the Grade 3 Mares Hurdle over 2m 4f. Braganza (Sean O’Keeffe) hasn’t run since April and a watching brief is advised in these testing conditions. Shewearsitwell (Paul) won a handicap hurdle at Punchestown last month and will handle today’s ground. Her homework has improved since Punchestown and she won’t be too away here.

Gaillard Du Mesnil (Paul) goes for the Grade 1 Novice Chase over 3 miles. He is still a maiden over fences but has plenty of experience. He likes this track and the trip won’t be a problem. Hopefully today will be the day he loses his maiden tag over fences.

We have three in the Matheson Grade 1 Hurdle over 2 miles. Sharjah (Patrick) has won this race for the last four years and keeps his best for here at Christmas. He is not getting any younger but can’t be discounted. State Man (Paul) is progressing nicely and has been doing everything right so far this season. He’s the one to beat here. Vauban (Danny) might be a little ring rusty after a hard 4yo season. This is a big ask for him taking on older horses at this stage of his career.

We have two runners in the winners bumper. Special Cadeau (Jody Townend) is having his first run for the yard. He is out of classic winner Speciosa and his sire, Nathaniel, is one we really like. He won a bumper at Huntington before coming to us and the form of that race has not worked out very well. We’ll have to see what he can do here with the aid of Jody’s claim. Lecky Watson (Patrick) won a bumper at Punchestown on his debut last month but then lost the race in the steward’s room. He is really a winner without a penalty today. It’s a very competitive race but he has been in good form at home and should give a good account.

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