Saturday 14 December 2019

Classy 'Duke' tops bill as Samcro bids to enhance growing reputation

Our Duke, with Robbie Power on board, after winning last year’s Irish Grand National. Photo: Sportsfile
Our Duke, with Robbie Power on board, after winning last year’s Irish Grand National. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Irish Grand National hero Our Duke is the headline act on day two of Dublin's Racing Festival as Jessica Harrington's eight-year-old bids to get back on track as part of an excellent eight-race card packed with four Grade Ones.

Our Duke took all before him as a novice last season and hopes to book his ticket in Cheltenham's blue riband as he leads a field of ten in the €200,000 Unibet Irish Gold Cup while unbeaten hurdlers Samcro and Espoir D'Allen are out to add to their growing reputations but face stiff tasks.

12.40 Paddy Mullins Mares Grade B Handicap Hurdle 2m2f

AFTER wins at Tramore and Galway last autumn, Contingency is an obvious favourite but with skimpy odds available, it could pay dividends for punters to follow Harry Fry's decision to make the trip across the Irish Sea with Canelie in an unpredictable handicap.


1.15 Tattersalls Ireland Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle 2m

ESPOIR D'ALLEN has taken all before him this season but Gavin Cromwell's star juvenile hurdler faces the biggest test of his young career. Farclas may have finished behind him at Christmas but there was something to like about how Gordon Elliott's charge battled up the straight past Mitchouka - which reopposes - while Mr Adjudicator could be an interesting contender.


1.50 Deloitte Grade 1 Novice Hurdle 2m

NOT since the days of Dunguib has a novice hurdler raised so much interest on these shores as the unbeaten Samcro and he could be taken off the bridle for the first time here against a good cast. Real Steel was upsides Sharjah when both fell at the last in a calamitous race won by Whiskey Sour at Christmas and is outstanding value against the hot-favourite at double-figure odds.

SELECTION: Real Steel (e/w)

2.25 William Fry Grade B Handicap Hurdle 3m

IT's not often you have a 5/4 jolly in a competitive 17-runner handicap but everything looks to be in the favour of Total Recall, which switches back to smaller obstacles with nearly 30lbs in hand having plundered the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury in December. Of the opposition, Phil's Magic is overpriced for Tony Martin.

SELECTION: Total Recall

3.0 Flogas Grade 1 Novice Chase 2m5f

ONE of the races of the week as Monalee bids to bounce back from a fall at Christmas. Snow Falcon picked up the pieces on that occasion and Noel Meade's charge may again be the value option in a cracking renewal with Sutton Place, Invitation Only and Al Boum Photo all trading at single figure odds.

SELECTION: Snow Falcon

3.35 Unibet Irish Gold Cup (Chase) (Grade 1) 3m

OUR DUKE heads a field of ten as Harrington's brilliant chaser bids to bounce back from back surgery following a disappointing effort at Down Royal in November. If he returns to his best, he will take some beating but he's likely to be pushed all the way by Killultagh Vic, which has had his problems but is top class on his day. It's hard to have faith in Djakadam after two below-par runs this season while Anibale Fly might struggle with the step into Grade One company.


4.10 Chanelle Pharma Grade A Handicap Chase 2m5f

THIS is a 22-runner minefield but Apache Stronghold has dropped steadily down the weights and may finally be off a mark which allows him to be really competitive in a top handicap. SELECTION: Apache Stronghold

4.40 Coolmore Mares Grade 2 Flat Race 2m

COLREEVY looks a cut above her rivals based on her Fairyhouse romp in December and should close out the two-day Festival with a win for the father-son combination of Willie and Patrick Mullins, chased home by stablemate Relegate.


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