Gold Cup contenders Kemboy and Delta Work set for intriguing clash at Dublin Racing Festival
THERE will be Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty with Delta Work and Kemboy set for a mouth-watering duel on day two of next month's Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
The pair – both at single-figure odds to land the blue riband at the Cotswolds in March – head 15 entries in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on February 2, with a fascinating clash in store.
Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work came up trumps when landing the Savills Chase at the Foxrock track over Christmas with the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy only back in fourth on his seasonal reappearance.
Improvement will be expected from Kemboy, having had an interrupted preparation prior to that run, and the race sponsors make the pair 7/4 joint-favourites with Mullins also possibly calling on last year’s winner Bellshill as he bids for an 11th triumph in the €250,000 contest.
The highlight on the opening day is the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle, with 14 hopefuls headed by Henry de Bromhead’s unbeaten mare Honeysuckle, fresh from her heroics in the Hatton's Grace last month.
Should the six-year-old prevail in good style, De Bromhead may choose to reroute her to the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle from the Mares' Hurdle, but she will have to be at her best as Mullins lays down the gauntlet.
A four-strong Closutton team is led by Matheson Hurdle winner Sharjah and last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Klassical Dream, which was disappointed by his stablemate over course and distance at Christmas.
Jessica Harrington’s 2018 Irish Champion Hurdle hero Supasundae and the resurgent Apple’s Jade could also take their chance while Elliott has also entered star novice hurdlers Envoi Allen and Abracadabras.
The first of eight Grade Ones over the two days is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle where Envoi Allen tops an Elliott entry of 10, while a 12-strong Mullins team includes Asterion Forlonge and Champion Bumper second Blue Sari, and Paul Nolan is represented by the classy Latest Exhibition.
The Mullins-trained Min could bid for a third successive win in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, although the Closutton maestro possesses a formidable squad, with Un De Sceaux, Cilaos Emery and Chacun Pour Soi also engaged.
De Bromhead’s A Plus Tard inflicted a shock defeat on Chacun Pour Soi last month and the pair could renew rivalry while Nicky Richards' course regular Simply Ned also holds an entry.
De Bromhead's Notebook is the leading fancy in the Grade One ERSG Arkle Novice Chase after besting the Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’Oudairies over Christmas and the pair could be set for another interesting clash.
Elliott's Battleoverdoyen and Mullins' evergreen 12-year-old Faugheen lead the way in the Flogas Novice Chase where last year's Albert Bartlett winner Minella Indo is also a notable entry for De Bromhead.