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Possible clash of Faugheen and Buveur D'Air tops impressive Dublin Racing Festival menu

29 December 2017; Faugheen, with Paul Townend up, clears the last first time round, before subsequently pulling up, during the Ryanair Hurdle on day 4 of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival at Leopardstown in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
29 December 2017; Faugheen, with Paul Townend up, clears the last first time round, before subsequently pulling up, during the Ryanair Hurdle on day 4 of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival at Leopardstown in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

The entries for the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival have thrown up some intriguing clashes including the potential meeting of reigning Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air and 2015 hero Faugheen in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle.

Willie Mullins reported that he was "very happy" with Faugheen yesterday following an out of sorts performance at Leopardstown over the Christmas period and provided he takes his home work in his stride, the 10-year-old will take his place at the Foxrock track next month.

He may be joined there by Buveur D'Air, Nicky Henderson's outstanding seven-year-old who is unbeaten in eight starts since finishing third behind Altior in the Supreme Novice's Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival two years ago, in what would be a fascinating duel.

With record prize-money up for grabs on the first weekend in February (3rd and 4th), English trainer Henderson may be tempted to make the trip but should he not, there is still a lot to set the juices flowing with 2014 Champion Hurdle winner Jezki, Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle hero Mick Jazz, Melon and another English raider Defi Du Seuil in line to run in the €150,000 event.

Ten horses have been entered for the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase on the opening day with the Mullins-trained Footpad and Petit Mouchoir, trained by Henry De Bromhead, leading the way while Irish trainer's championship leader Gordon Elliott looks set to run Tombstone.

Four Grade 1 races highlight the second day, spearheaded by a mouth-watering Unibet Irish Gold Cup which could be the race of the weekend as it is expected to see the return of last year's Irish Grand National winner Our Duke in the €200,000 event.

Noel Meade’s Road To Respect, winner of the Leopardstown Christmas Chase, will provide stiff opposition, however, while Tony Martin's Anibale Fly, Eddie Harty’s Coney Island and the Mullins pair of Djakadam and Killultagh Vic are also among an impressive list of Irish declarations.

Minella Rocco, last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, and Definitly Red hold entries in the blue riband at the Cotswolds in March and both could yet represent Jonjo O’Neill and Brian Ellison at the Dublin Racing Festival on a weekend that promises to set pulses' racing and provide countless Cheltenham clues.

Online Editors

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