Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO Jockey Patrick Mullins on board Douvan.
# Christmas racing
No shortage of drama or rain on opening day of Leopardstown festival
The crowds weren’t deterred by the miserable conditions.

Updated at 5pm 

THE UNRELENTING WIND and rain did little to dampen the spirit on the opening day of the Leopardstown Christmas festival as Willie Mullins’ Douvan romped to victory in the Novice Chase.

In the end, it was all too comfortable for the 4-7 favourite in the Grade One feature on a miserable St Stephen’s Day.

The five-year-old was imperious as the leading novice hurdler from last year made it two from two over the fences.

Douvan, ridden by Patrick Mullins, coasted to victory as he pulled away from Sizing John to win by 18 lengths.

Earlier, Apple’s Jade produced a late push to catch the bookies’ favourite and win the third race of the festival.

The Willie Mullins’ trained horse, with Johnny Burke on board, pipped Jer’s Girl on the line to claim the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle.

The 12-1 shot had work to do down the final stretch but after clearing the last fence, closed the gap and pipped the pre-race favourite on the line.

Race goers look on during the race Donall Farmer / INPHO The festive spirit shone through despite the inclement weather at Leopardstown. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“She was fairly keen and just took a bit of time to pick up, but when she had something to aim at in the straight she was very tough and brave,” Burke said afterwards.

“She really stuck her neck out, and they are two tough fillies.”

Meanwhile, the 13-8 favourite Coney Island won the Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle while A Toi Phil claimed the Thorton’s Recycling Maiden Hurdle.

Later on the card, Ice Cold Soul won the Handicap Hurdle, Dysios was the victor in the Handicap Chase and the final race of the day was won by the 11/8 favourite Bacardys.

Racing resumes tomorrow at 12.10pm.

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Meanwhile, Cue Card pipped Vautour on the line to land a vintage King George VI Chase at the fourth attempt at Kempton.

Vautour (3-1) appeared to be set for victory, leading over the last fence and up the run-in only for Cue Card (9-2), under a determined ride by Paddy Brennan, to reel him in to edge the showcase race by a head.

Don Cossack, the 15-8 favourite, held every chance before falling at the second last.

Cue Card’s previous best showing in the three-mile Grade One was runner-up to Silviniaco Conti, winner of the last two runnings but who only played a bit role this time.

Shane Lowry Cathal Noonan / INPHO Golfer Shane Lowry at the races. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Leopardstown results, St Stephen’s Day:

  • 12.15 – 1. Coney Island (13/8) 2. Improver (66/1) 3. Billy’s Hope (7/1)
  • 12.45 – 1. A Toi Phil (7/2) 2. Don’t Touch It (3/1) 3. Vigil (9/10)
  • 13.20 – 1. Apple’s Jade (12/1) 2. Jer’s Girl (9/2) 3. Footpad (5/2)
  • 13.50 – 1. Ice Cold Soul (10/1) 2. Shannak (25/1) 3. Tongie (16/1)
  • 14.20 – 1. Dysios (6/1) 2. I’m All You Need (7/1) 3. Forty Foot Tom (5/1)
  • 14.55 – 1. Douvan (4/7) 2. Sizing John (5/1) 3. Velvet Maker (16/1)
  • 15.25 – 1. Barcardys (11/8) 2. Grotesque (5/1) 3. Borderline Chatho (3/1)

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