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Kemboy to enhance Gold Cup chances on big day for all-conquering Mullins


Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile

There's only one starting point at Leopardstown tomorrow where the mouth-watering Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3.30) throws up an intriguing three-way duel on the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival.

Gordon Elliott's Delta Work got up in the shadow of the post to land the Savills Chase on his last outing with Willie Mullins's Kemboy and Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy not far behind but things are expected to be different this time around.

After an interrupted preparation which didn't see him return until after Christmas, Kemboy blew the cobwebs away when three-and-a-half lengths back in fourth, an encouraging reappearance in anyone's language.

Much better is expected from the eight-year-old given the Closutton crew have generally improved enormously on their second start this season and Paul Townend's mount is the one to beat on all known form.

Kemboy was the highest-rated chaser in Britain and Ireland last season following impressive displays at Aintree and Punchestown and if he can recapture anything like that type of form, victory should be his.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup may be the be-all and end-all for Presenting Percy's connections but Davy Russell's mount needs to step up to that standard, while Delta Work is sure to make the frame again, but form may be reversed with Kemboy in the €250,000 feature.

While the roof may come off if Presenting Percy were to prevail, the same could be said if Faugheen can land one of the other four Grade One contests - the Flogas Novice Chase (3.0) - at the ripe age of 12.

Few would have envisaged that winning a Grade One as a novice chaser was a possibility but 'The Machine' proved that he was in perfect working order when stuffing Samcro at Christmas and an intriguing duel with Battleoverdoyen awaits.

Elliott's seven-year-old has done nothing wrong over fences with a hat-trick already notched over the larger obstacles - including a three-runner Grade One here over Christmas - and it promises to be a fascinating duel as young takes on old.

The fly in the ointment may be another Mullins inmate, however, with Easy Game selected to spring a mild surprise having beaten subsequent winner Allaho over course and distance on his eye-catching chasing debut at Christmas.

Something was amiss with Blue Sari over Christmas when Mullins's charge bombed out but Mark Walsh's mount is given another chance in the ultra-competitive Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (1.55), a race which the champion trainer has farmed, winning six of the last seven runnings.

It's hard to look past Henry de Bromhead's Aspire Tower in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.25) but Gavin Cromwell's Wolf Prince is advised without the favourite having already chased him home.

Meanwhile, the €150,000 Gaelic Plant Hire Leopardstown Handicap Chase features a whopping ten JP McManus-owned runners but John Kiely's Portmore Lough may prove best after his third in the Troytown.

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