Sir Des Champs set to prosper
THERE were some tight finishes yesterday but there's a top-class showdown in the offing at Leopardstown today when Sir Des Champs and Bobs Worth go head-to-head in the Lexus Chase.
We've seen plenty of good racing over the last few days but this duel is one of the highlights of the week and while there are other good horses in the race, I expect these two to be fighting it out.
They've both had their share of big-race success with Bobs Worth taking the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Sir Des Champs winning the Punchestown equivalent. But neither horse set the world on fire on their seasonal reappearance so you can make a case for either one beating the other.
Admittedly, if Bobs Worth comes back to form he'll be very hard to beat and Sir Des Champs crashed out early in his recent race which mightn't have been the best preparation for him. But he'll love the ground and I think he's primed for a big run in what will be a great day's racing at Leopardstown.
There's another big race on the card in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle which sees World Hurdle winner Solwhit return to action. This grand stayer which won also won at Aintree last season hasn't run in a while and was beaten last time out in France.
If he's a little off his game, there's enough class in the small field to see him gobbled up. I like Zaidpour but I have a sneaking feeling for Gordon Elliott's Mala Beach. He's a good horse that I won a Grade Two on at Fairyhouse in March and when he made his seasonal return at Navan he ran well to finish second. He's another which will love this ground and he'll be very close to the action at the end.
In the opening race I'm going to plump for Shield and Robbie Power. Aidan O'Brien had a winner yesterday so his horses are in form and Shield has good place form and course experience so he looks a good choice to get the day off to a winning start.
The Pertemps looks to be wide open but Followmeuptocarlow has a decent chance for Tom Foley and Roger Loughran. He looks to be off a nice weight and that will help his cause.
In the 1.20, Inis Meain looks to be the class horse and if he can bring his Flat form back to hurdles, he'll be very hard to beat. The beginners chase at 2.20 is another race that is tough to call but if you're looking for clues, Talbot Road seems to make the best case. He had a good run last time out and won his maiden last year so he has real claims.
The 3.30 rounds off the action for the day and Dermot Weld doesn't often leave Leopardstown at Christmas without tasting some success and Silver Concorde and Derek O'Connor can see him in the winners' enclosure.
1.20 Inis Meain
1.50 Mala Beach (ew)
2.20 Talbot Road
2.55 Sir Des Champs (nap)
3.30 Silver Concorde