Monday 16 December 2019

Kemboy bidding for glory in Savills Chase as Grade One entries for Leopardstown Christmas Festival are revealed

Kemboy on the way to winning the Savills Steeplechase of 175,000 (Grade1) during Day 3 of the Leopardstown Festival at Leopardstown racecourse in Dublin. Photo by Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Kemboy on the way to winning the Savills Steeplechase of 175,000 (Grade1) during Day 3 of the Leopardstown Festival at Leopardstown racecourse in Dublin. Photo by Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Gold Cup contender Kemboy tops the entries for the Leopardstown Christmas Festival where seven Grade One contests will be up for grabs during the star-studded four-day meeting (December 26-29).

The Foxrock track is the place to be once the turkey (or vegan equivalent) is digested and the Savills Chase (December 28) is one of the showpiece events, with champion trainer Willie Mullins holding a strong hand.

Kemboy finished last season as the highest rated chaser in Ireland and Britain following Grade Ones win at Aintree and Punchestown and the seven-year-old will return to Leopardstown bidding for back-to-back victories in €175,000 contest.

Kemboy tops the 25-strong entry and could renew rivalries with last year's second (Henry de Bromhead's Monalee) and third (Noel Meade's Road To Respect) as he bids to cement his place near the head of the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.

Road To Respect claimed the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal for a second time early last month and comes to Leopardstown in fine fettle, while Tony Martin is also aiming last year's Gold Cup second Anibale Fly at the Savills Chase.

Mullins' Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo holds an entry but is likely to head to Tramore on New Year's Day once more while Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work and the Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy are other intriguing contenders.

The opening Grade One of the meeting is the Racing Post Novice Chase on St Stephen's Day where Joseph O'Brien's exciting four-year-old Fakir D'oudairies is among 16 smart entries.

Victorious at Fairyhouse yesterday in the Drinmore Novice Chase, Fakir D'oudairiesis could renew rivalries with Samcro after Elliott's charge parted ways with Jack Kennedy at the second last when in contention.

Laurina is another interesting contender having oozed class on her chasing debut last month while the top billing on day two is the €200,000 Paddy Power Chase.

A full field of 28 runners is certain to face the starter for the richest race of the four-day extravaganza with a bumper entry of 61 horses, including six from Britain.

Leopardstown favourite Simply Ned landed the Paddy's Rewards Club Chase last year for Nicky Richards when edging out Mullins' Footpad in a thrilling finish and that pair could do battle in the same contest this time around.

Mullins has targeted the race as a stellar entry from Closutton also includes the exciting Chacun Pour Soi, Cilaos Emery, Min, the evergreen Un De Sceaux and this year's Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres.

The Ruth Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently is another cross-channel entry while the home team is further strengthened by big-race winners from the De Bromhead yard in Cheltenham Festival scorer A Plus Tard and Ornua.

The final day is headed by the Matheson Hurdle where Mullins is likely to be represented by last year's winner Sharjah while stablemate Klassical Dream, this year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner, could bid to get his season back on track after a sub-par effort in the Morgiana Hurdle.

Elliott is responsible for six entries, headed by Apple’s Jade, Coeur Sublime and leading novice hurdlers Envoi Allen and Abacadabras while former Irish Champion Hurdle winners Supasundae (Jessica Harrington) and Petit Mouchoir (De Bromhead) also feature among the 12 entries.

The most exciting of them all, however, is Honeysuckle. De Bromhead's five-year-old mare oozed class in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle yesterday and would be the one to beat if taking her chance.

Online Editors

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport