Closutton, Bagenalstown, Carlow, Ireland
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Leopardstown 4th February

We have two runners in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle over 2m 6f. It’s a top class race that will take a lot of winning. Grangeclare West (Danny) was disappointing when only fifth behind Champ Kiely at Naas but if back to his best here he could cause an upset. Paul has chosen Quais De Paris who wasn’t visually impressive when winning a maiden hurdle at Tramore on New Year’s Day. Paul said after the race that he felt he is a lot better than that and he had no problem deciding to ride him again today.

We have six declared for the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle over 2 miles. Lossiemouth (Paul) looks the one on all previous form and we think she will be hard to beat. Gala Marceau (Danny) was second to Lossiemouth at Christmas and will improve a lot from that run. That should put her in here with a solid each-way chance. Gust Of Wind (Sean O’Keeffe) was a good winner of a hurdle at Auteuil and that form has to be respected here. He might be a little green on this first run over Irish hurdles but the run will tell us a lot about him. Jourdefete (Jack Foley) was very disappointing behind Lossiemouth last time and we are just hoping for better today. Tekao (Mark Walsh) won a maiden over this course and distance at Christmas but this represents a huge step up in class. A top three finish would be good. Cinsa (Brian Hayes) is having her first run for us. She was fourth to Lossiemouth at Auteuil and that run gives her a chance here. However, she doesn’t look as sharp as her stable companion at this stage.

We run five in a very hot renewal of the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase over 2m 1f. Paul had no qualms about picking Appreciate It and that’s a great vote of confidence in itself. He loves this track and has been very impressive in winning his two starts over fences at Punchestown and Naas. He has every chance of going in again. Dysart Dynamo (Danny) was very good on his chasing debut over this course and distance at Christmas. There is likely to be a searching pace here and he will probably be at the head of it. His inexperience might tell but on his hurdle form he could play a part in the finish. El Fabiolo (Daryl Jacob) was also very impressive on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse. Paul made all on him that day but Daryl doesn’t need to be as positive today in a race like this. On his run against Jonbon over hurdles at Aintree he won’t be far away from the action here. Flame Bearer (Brian Hayes) won his beginners chase easily at Fairyhouse last month but the form doesn’t stack up against these opponents. He looks a better chaser than a hurdler but he has it all to do today. Saint Roi (Mark Walsh) won a novice chase over this course and distance at Christmas. There should be a lot of pace up front here and if Mark uses the same tactics and rides a waiting race it could pay dividends.

As it should be, the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup over 3 miles is very competitive. Galopin Des Champs (Paul) is tackling this trip for the first time over fences. We don’t think that will be a problem as he won a grade one over this trip as a novice hurdler. He has the class to come out on top here. Danny will be riding his usual cute race on Franco De Port. He won around here over a much shorter trip and will be arriving late on the scene today. The watered ground brings him into it and he could be good each-way material. Kemboy (Rachael Blackmore) ran a cracker when second here over Christmas. He is in good form but would prefer the ground a little drier. He loves the track but at his age this is a tough ask. Patrick thinks Stattler will run very well. He ran a great race at Tramore on New Year’s Day and we think he has improved since. He will be there turning for home and who knows what will happen after that?

We have two runners in the Grade B Handicap Hurdle over 3 miles. Paul has elected to ride Blue Sari which is a good sign. He will like the ground and his stamina is not an issue so the trip won’t be a problem. Belle Metal (Rachael Blackmore) has been disappointing. We may have used the wrong tactics at Navan last time and a different strategy here is probably her only hope.

We run four in the winners’ bumper. Jody was full of praise for Chosen Witness after he won on heavy ground at Limerick at Christmas. The ground won’t be as testing today so Jody will ride him positively. He gallops and stays and we are expecting a big run. Patrick has picked Fact To File who won over 2m 4f here at Christmas. The penny only dropped with him a long way up the straight and the experience he gained will be a huge asset today. We think he will handle the drop back in trip and we’re expecting him to be seriously involved here. Largy Hill (Pat Taaffe) also won at Limerick over Christmas but this is a big step up in class today. Hopefully he will run well and give Pat a good spin. Special Cadeau (Barry O’Neill) was third here at Christmas. He will have learnt a lot from that run and will strip fitter today. We think he will be involved at the business end.

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