AUTHOR: James Dowen

DAVY RUSSELL Sun: Dublin Racing Festival

What a day! After the first couple of races it felt like it was going to be one of those days, but then Conflated came along and landed the big one. He was just brilliant and gave me a lovely feel the whole way round. In fact, I had a real dilemma approaching the second last as I wasn’t sure whether I should kick on as he was travelling so well. I knew there were plenty of stayers in behind me and just decided that was the right time to steal a march on them. Hats off to Gordon for throwing him in at the deep end and it gave us all a huge buzz.

Hollow Games ran a solid race in the opener and we probably gave the winner a little bit too much rope. As for Fil Dor, he ran a solid race but was just beaten by a better horse on the day. He is proven in much softer conditions and will be suited by that if it turns up soft at Cheltenham. He will also relish the hill. Anyway, Saturday was a great day and I’m looking forward to Sunday where I have another four nice rides to look forward to…

Again I’ve recorded another Zoom Room with Bill and Johnny. CLICK TO WATCH Sunday’s preview.




My best chance of a winner on day two might be Party Central for Gordon (Elliott) in the opening Mares’ handicap hurdle. She never performed in the North (Down Royal) two starts back but was so much better the last day in Punchestown. She jumped great and travelled well so would have a big chance if in the same form. This looks a competitive race, but she races off a nice mark and should be competitive.

1.20pm – Ladbrokes Novice Chase (Grade One)

No ride for me in the first of the Grade Ones where all eyes will be on Willie’s (Mullins) Galopin Des Champs who looked very smart in Leopardstown over Christmas. Listen, this is a big step up from a beginners’ chase as he takes on horses like Master McShee and Fury Road who have it done already at Grade One level. However, Galopin was visually so impressive the last day that you feel he may just be very good, he just has to go and prove it now.

1.50pm – Ladbrokes Dublin Chase (Grade One)

Only the five in the Dublin Chase where Chacun Pour Soi will be attempting to get back on track here. He’s obviously a very classy horse on his day and if he’s in the same form as he was in this race 12 months ago, he’ll take some beating. He has to prove his health and wellbeing though. If he’s not at the top of his game, then the likes of Greaneteen will be there to pick up the pieces.

SAMCRO – 2.25pm

A typical wide-open looking handicap chase where I’m back aboard old friend Samcro (pictured below) for the first time since winning the Ryanair Chase in Cheltenham a few years ago. A fair bit of water has gone under the bridge for both of us since and he’s now down to a mark of 152. This is probably the right trip for him and I’m hoping he might show some of his old magic. Gordon also saddles Fakir D’alene who jumped well to win in Thurles. He’s up 5lbs for that but is improving and should go well.

3.00pm – Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade One)

Again, only the five runners with the brilliant mare Honeysuckle looking the standout one. You can’t talk high enough about her as she bids to make it 14 from 14. She’ll win alright with the likes of Zanahiyr and Saint Roi up against it. There in no Appreciate It which is a shame as it would have been nice to see her tested.

THREE STRIPE LIFE – 3.35pm – Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle (Grade One)

The last of the Grade One action where I partner Three Stripe Life in the big novice hurdle. He is still learning his job and ran well here the last day considering he made a mistake at a crucial time and rallied back to go close. I’m hoping he’ll have learnt plenty from that and can step up again. He’ll have to if he’s to beat Sir Gerhard who was the best of these in bumpers last year and made a nice start here on St Stephen’s Day.


My last ride of the meeting is Call Me Lyreen in the two-mile Liffey Handicap. In truth he’s been a bit disappointing since finishing a good second in Punchestown last April. He’s still 3lbs above that mark and may need more help from the handicapper. Gordon also saddles Eskylane, Magic Tricks and Éclair De Beaufeu who would all have squeaks on the best of their form. Looking at the others and Cask Mate looks a big danger as does Autumn Evening.

Good Luck