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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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5 horses that could light up the Dublin Racing Festival next week

There’s an intriguing couple of days in store at Leopardstown.

Battleoverdoyen

Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Jack Kennedy after winning The Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle on Battleoverdoyen Jockey Jack Kennedy after winning The Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle on Battleoverdoyen earlier this month. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He may be the most unimaginatively named horse in training; he’s by Doyen out of a mare called Battle Over. See what they did there?

What he lacks there he makes up for everywhere else.

This is a hulking specimen who stands over 18 hands tall, and appears to still have more scope to fill into his enormous frame. Trained by Gordon Elliot, he is unbeaten in public, having won a point-to-point, a bumper and both of his hurdle starts, including when stepping into Grade One company at Naas last time out.

Battleoverdoyen will be a deserved favourite on Saturday of the Dublin Racing Festival in the opening race, the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Novice Hurdle.

The two-mile six trip looks to be ideal and this could be another aeroplane for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, who can oblige here before landing at Cheltenham. 

Kemboy

Unibet Irish Gold Cup (Grade 1)

David Mullins on Kemboy celebrates after winning the race David Mullins on Kemboy celebrates after winning at Leopardstown at Christmas. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Willie Mullins has had a head-scratcher of a season so far. The weather has played havoc with his preferred preparation method for his horses. That is bring them along slowly through soft winter ground.

However we have not had any “proper” winter ground yet, and the master of Closutton has been left somewhat behind. The exception to this has been Kemboy, a revelation over fences this season in particular.

He is four out of four chasing since falling in the Irish Grand National last April and was sensational winning over course and distance at Christmas. David Mullins defied his trainer’s instructions to hold the horse up, and rather he let Kemboy stride on for the final lap. The horse duly bolted up by over seven lengths, thanks in no small part to the jockey’s decision. Fortune favoured his bravery on that occasion, hopefully the owners, The Supreme Racing Club appreciate the rider’s tactics and leave him on board.

Apples Jade

BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Apple's Jade with Gordon Elliott Apple's Jade with Gordon Elliott. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Talented freaks are always good for sport; think Bolt or LeBron - proper one off talents. Apples Jade could fit into that category were she to tick just a couple more boxes.

Given she is already a nine-time grade one winner, what more does she have to do, you ask. Well, winning an open Grade One over two miles would definitely elevate her further.

She came very close in the 2016 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, just going down by a nose, Apples Jade can go one better here. This is a strong renewal, but she is a strong girl. Her mares’ allowance of seven pounds means she doesn’t have to improve on official figures.

She loves it a Leopardstown and is unbeaten there. She needs to turn up and run her race; were she to do so and win, a tilt at The Champion Hurdle might come into the equation.

That would tick the last remaining box.

Wonder Laish

Ladbrokes Hurdle (Grade B Handicap)

Fairyhouse Winter Festival - Day Two - Fairyhouse Races Wonder Laish ridden by Davy Russell (left) jump the last to win the Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle during day two of the Fairyhouse Winter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

A weekend packed with Grade Ones is great, but following a horse all year that has been steadily and successfully campaigned in handicaps is one of racing’s unique pleasures.

Few are more adept at the art of getting a horse adequately handicapped than Charles Byrnes. He won this race last year with Off You Go, who could repeat the feat, but stablemate Wonder Laish has a more progressive profile.

The Ladbrokes Hurdle has had a few names over the years and lots of brilliant winners who went on to be graded class. Wonder Laish runs off a mark of 144 here; hopefully that is lenient. This is only his fifth lifetime start over hurdles, he can win here and go on to the County Hurdle at Cheltenham next, as a likely favourite.

Delta Work

Flogas Novice Chase (Grade 1)

Fairyhouse Winter Festival - Day Two - Fairyhouse Races Delta Work ridden by Davy Russell (front) wins the Drinmore Novice Steeplechase during day two of the Fairyhouse Winter Festival. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Delta Work is already a Cheltenham festival winner and dual Grade One winner, but it feels as though the best is yet to come from this son of Network. Gordon Elliot’s Gelding stepped into Grade one company on only his second start over fences in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse and looked to be set for a silver medal having blundered at the last, but he rallied to reel in Le Richebourg that day, and both have gone on to take further top level glory since.

Delta Work will be a warm order favourite and will face arguably the best of British in Le Bague a Roi, but that should not stop this fellow lighting up the Flogas Chase before going on to The RSA at Cheltenham before becoming a top three-mile chaser next season.

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About the author:

Thom Malone

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