5 bets to consider as crowds return for the Dublin Racing Festival

Johnny Ward shares his picks ahead of the meeting at Leopardstown this weekend.

THIS WEEKEND SEES the Dublin Racing Festival take place, and racing journalist Johnny Ward is here to bring you his picks along with the latest William Hill prices.

a-general-view-of-the-stand-at-leopardstown-racecourse Bryan Keane / INPHO The stand at Leopardstown Racecourse. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

After the decision to bar racegoers at Christmas due to staffing issues, Leopardstown has a near-capacity crowd at a jumps meeting for the first time in two years. Expect punters to enjoy it as such.

Here are five selections. If you prefer to wait for the declarations, there is the likelihood of William Hill going favourable each-way terms for those at bigger prices.

Be lucky. 

Fil Dor 6/4 -  (Juvenile Hurdle, 1.35 Saturday)

davy-russell-clears-the-last-to-win-on-fil-dor Morgan Treacy / INPHO Davy Russell on Fil Dor. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

I can’t really figure out why Fil Dor is a bigger price than Vauban here, even if the latter’s form looks better than it did on the back of Cheltenham on Saturday, when his Punchestown conqueror Pied Piper was impressive.

That one’s stablemate, Fil Dor, has been pretty flawless over hurdles so far — giving the impression there’s more there if needed — and I can’t have him any bigger than even money here even if William Hill goes a top-price 6/4.

He’s a natural at this game and that level of experience he has attained is not to be sniffed at in the juvenile division.

Priory Park 11/1 – (Handicap Hurdle, 2.45 Saturday) 

priory-park-ridden-by-mark-walsh-after-winning Bryan Keane / INPHO Priory Park, ridden by Mark Walsh. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Dylan Thomas was a flop as a Flat stallion but he’s got some good jumpers and is at least making some impact at stud now.

It’s hard to know how far this horse wants trip-wise but Priory Park is progressing rapidly and I get the impression he will be better again for three miles.

The dam did not race but was a half-sister to three winners, all of whom stayed at least this trip. He travels strongly in his races and is likeable.

Finest Evermore – (Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle, 12.45 Sunday)

willie-mullins Bryan Keane / INPHO Willie Mullins. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

This is the fifth renewal since Paddy Mullins was honoured in the moniker. It may seem a little strange that his son Willie’s record in it is undistinguished – his last success came in 2012 – but it’s more significant that he has just one entry this time around in a race that will clearly mean more than the average handicap hurdle to the family.

This mare, by Yeats, was sent off odds-on on her first four starts for the yard, winning three of them before an honourable third to the remarkable Skyace just over a year ago.

Finest Evermore‘s comeback run at Leopardstown was perfectly satisfactory; indeed it rates much her best so far. It was most encouraging how she stayed on there and she looks sure to be involved now.

Chacun Pour Soi 4/6 (Dublin Steeplechase, 1.50 Sunday)

paul-townend-onboard-chacun-pour-soi-comes-home-to-win Morgan Treacy / INPHO Paul Townend onboard Chacun Pour Soi. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

It seems safe to say Chacun Pour Soi would have won the Champion Chase in March if ridden differently, in which case he’d have gone into the Tingle Creek unbeaten in six successive starts.

He’s rarely available at this price and you are essentially betting on him running his race as if he does it’s near certain he will win.

There is the concern of how he bombed at Sandown but he’s had plenty of time to get over that and the fact he was reportedly sore for a few days afterwards is enough to suggest it’s easily forgiven.

Sir Gerhard 11/8 – (Novice Hurdle, 3.35 Sunday)

rachael-blackmore-on-sir-gerhard-celebrates-after-winning Dan Abraham / INPHO Rachael Blackmore celebrating on Sir Gerhard. Dan Abraham / INPHO / INPHO

I’d be amazed if Statuaire is considered in the same league as Sir Gerhard at Willie Mullins’ yard and if that is the case he should be beating her and My Mate Mozzie.

He’s already destroyed Three Stripe Life in a bumper which gives him the beating of both the Elliott runner and his stablemate Mighty Potter on collateral form.

Of course, it’s not always as simple as that but Sir Gerhard looks likely to be better over hurdles than he was in bumpers (even though he won the Cheltenham Bumper). His jumping was of the calibre that renders him potentially top-class back on his debut which, helpfully, was at this track. He looks an odds-on shot here.

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org    

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