The weather might scupper the action at Sandown Park and Wetherby on Saturday, but all seems set fair (relatively speaking!) for the two-day bonanza at Leopardstown, that is the Dublin Racing Festival. Usually, this a meeting that is seen as a pilgrimage for many a jump racing fan, but we will have to stick the ever-excellent coverage on our TV screens, and the warmth of our homes.
Eight Grade 1’s, two Grade 2’s, fiendish handicaps, two classy bumpers, and oodles of prize money – so much about this meeting screams brilliance, and for the most part this year, it is a meeting to enjoy from start to finish, without the added enjoyment/stress of having a bet.
Having been trawling through the entries and cards for weeks, it is so hard to look away from the Willie Mullins’ battalions, and the man from Closutton could clean up. Gaillard Du Mesnil, Chacun Pour Soi (or Min), Appreciate It and Monkfish look rock solid – and perhaps the most vulnerable high-profile favourites could be Energumene and Honeysuckle.
It is one thing getting them beat however, it’s another thing to find their potential conquerors. Maybe if you’re that way inclined, a simple lay bet on the exchanges on both of them could suffice.
The opening race of the whole meeting could be the most informative, and as stated Gaillard Du Mesnil could be a superstar, but might just be slightly better over shorter in time, and the likes of Cape Gentleman, Ashdale Bob and Shadow Rider have the potential to improve and be in the shake-up over this trip.
The two handicaps on Sunday make the most appeal from a betting perspective, and it is the opening race at 1.10 – the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle – that sees my only bet of the weekend.
As things stand, several firms have begun to offer extra place terms for each-way bets, and it will be very much worth keeping an eye on prices/offers over the weekend, in order to secure yourself the best bet possible on the Tony Mullins-trained mare Rescue Package, currently a general 12/1 across the board.
Back Rescue Package in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle with Bet365!
There is a fair chance of a son of Paddy Mullins training the winner of the race named in his honour, as Willie saddles six runners, but it is the sole representative from the yard of another of his offspring, Tony Mullins, that could land the spoils.
Rescue Package has been brought along fairly slowly, having had just the 9 career starts to date, but the last couple have been strikingly progressive. It seems she is timing her progression to coincide with the most valuable prize she has raced for, and that pattern is something Tony Mullins has proved nicely adept at doing – look at the improvement he coaxed from another mare in his care, Princess Zoe.
Rescue Package was a non-staying second over 2m6f in a Ballinrobe handicap in September before going on to put in the best run of her short career last time, when outstaying Belfast Banter in a novice hurdle at Punchestown. Belfast Banter has since gone on to run a belter in a valuable Ascot handicap hurdle, when fifth off a mark of 129 – in time he could prove much better than that, and for collateral form lovers, Belfast Banter runs in the Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Musselburgh at 3.25 on Sunday also. He is currently a best-priced 14/1, and that also looks a decent each-way bet, though he might find it hard to beat the Dan Skelton-trained Third Time Lucki.
Belfast Banter’s showing on these shores served to suggest that Rescue Package has a lovely handicap mark of 127 to exploit, given she confirmed her superiority over Belfast Banter over 2m, with the promise of more to come at this trip of 2m2f.
What a weekend we have in store, and let’s hope that Rescue Package can make it a profitable one with a 12/1 each-way wager, as well as what will surely be a scintillating two days.