Morgan Treacy/INPHO Horses on the gallops at the Launch of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival at Jessica Harrington's yard.
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3 big races to watch on Day 1 of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival
It’s an exciting line-up, as a big event in the Irish racing calendar gets underway.

2.20pm - The Racing Post Novice Chase 

THE FEATURE RACE takes place at 14.20. It should be an intriguing contest, with Willie Mullins triumphing for the past two years with Douvan and Min respectively.

Footpad (8/11) could consequently make it three-in-a-row for the 61-year-old racehorse trainer.

However, there is strong competition, with Death Duty, who has an unbeaten chasing record, also highly fancied at 6/4.

1.15 pm – Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle 

Meath-based Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’allen (1/3) looks in strong contention here.

Winner of the Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse, he has been backed by many to retain his unbeaten record at Leopardstown today.

His biggest rival might be Gordon Elliott’s Mitchouka (10/3), who lost out to Espoir D’allen at the Fairyhouse Grade 3.

Meanwhile, Tenth Amendment (50/1) and Minnie Dahill (80/1) are among the rank outsiders here.

12.15pm - Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle 

One of the less predictable races to call, Manamite has an excellent recent record and is expected to be in contention with odds of 11/4.

At 5/4, the Margaret Mullins-owned Debuchet (5/4) is also likely to be in the frame.

And again, this is another race Willie Mullins could have a big say in. The experienced trainer has a typically excellent record in the race, and could well figure again with his horse, Antey, given odds of 3/1.

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’90% of trainers and staff are broke’ – Robbie McNamara says horse racing needs to change>

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