AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

DAVY RUSSELL: Dublin Racing Festival Leopardstown Saturday

Looking at the weather forecast it gets pretty cold overnight ahead of the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival, so fingers crossed it warms up enough and we get the green light. One thing for certain is that the event organisers will be doing all they can to get the meeting on and hopefully all their efforts will be rewarded.

Looking at the declarations over the two days and they have been rewarded with some quality fields and it looks like being a terrific spectacle. I’m just delighted to be back in the saddle after a sore week following that spill back at Gowran over a week ago now….



DEFI BLEU (12.50pm Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Hurdle)

The first Grade One action of the two days where I ride Defi Bleu for Gordon (Elliott). I guess the big positive with him is that he will have no problem with the trip and it just comes down to whether he is good enough. It looks a hell of a race and I cannot remember many Grade One races in Ireland in recent years with 16 runners.

Willie Mullins obviously holds a strong hand with the likes of Champion Bumper winner Relegate, not to mention the useful mare Salsaretta who also gets a handy 7lbs. What makes it even tougher is that plenty of these are coming out of maiden company for the first time and have the potential to improve dramatically. Embrun Mitja looks a nice one with a bright future for Henry (De Bromhead) while Magnium is another who will love the step up in trip. There is a danger I could write my whole blog on this race so I will conclude with the fact that my fella will hopefully be competitive as stamina is his forte.

TOMBSTONE (1.25pm BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle)

All eyes will be on Apple’s Jade as she steps back to two miles for the first time since November 2016. She is some mare and has been in unbelievable form this season. I suppose 2 ½ miles looks to be her ideal trip, but she is pretty versatile. This will be a real test with Melon as well as last year’s winner Supasundae in the mix, but she will still take plenty of beating. I ride Tombstone who finished third behind Espoir D’Allen and needs to step up massively to get involved. Farclas is also in the race and could surprise a few as he seems in great form at home.

WONDER LAISH (2.00pm Ladbrokes Hurdle)

The quality races keep coming quick and fast and next up it’s the valuable 19-runner Ladbrokes Hurdle where I ride the rapidly improving Wonder Laish. Look, I suppose we are always quick to have a moan about the handicapper being too hard on our horses and I felt the 17lbs rise after Navan in November was harsh. Since then he obviously won off that revised mark in Fairyhouse (pictured left, below) so has gone up another 8lbs. I suppose you cannot grumble again for going up for winning a valuable pot, but it just makes life tougher again. He’s improving, but he will have to be to defy this latest rise and the fact that he’s rated only 1lb behind Jezki says it all. I’m hoping he can go in again, but fear one being a little bit better handicapped beneath us. Éclair De Beaufeu sneaks in off a light weight being a novice and I suppose it’s a case of sink or swim with him. He could thrive in a race like this or it may come a little too early. Another one to keep an eye out for is Hearts Are Trumps who could go well too.

2.35pm Matheson Flat Race

No ride for me here but it will be great to see how Gordon’s three get on in what looks another red-hot bumper. The obvious one is Envoi Allen who has done nothing wrong all season and is a lovely big brute of a horse who never lets anyone down. This will be his biggest test though and he has to shoulder a 3lbs penalty too. Stablemate Abacadabras is smart enough too and is one to keep an eye on.

3.10pm Ladbrokes Dublin Chase

More Grade One action and sadly no ride for me. There was no Footpad in amongst the final declarations, but the Mullins team are still represented by Min who looks the one to beat. Having said that, don’t rule out English raider Simply Ned who seems to be a different horse around Leopardstown. I can see him putting it up to the likes of Min and outrunning his odds again. I rode Castlegrace Paddy the last day and even though he can go well, would prefer it a bit softer.

DUCA DE THAIX (3.45pm Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle)

My final ride of the day comes in a brilliant renewal of the Irish Arkle. I ride Duca De Thaix for Gordon who has really got his act together recently wining two handicaps off 133 and 143 respectively. He is now rated 151, so this seems the obvious race for him as life in handicaps will be very hard off that new mark. He’s in good form and will hopefully go well despite the jump up into Grade One class. On paper, Le Richebourg looks the one after his impressive win here at Christmas. The drop in trip helped him that day and he looks very smart. This won’t be a walk in the park for him though with the likes of Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue in attendance.


If you have a question for Davy drop us a line at and we’ll try and include in the next blog…