3 big races to watch on the final day of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival

Irish racing’s final two Grade 1s of 2017 are down for decision today.

Faugheen ridden by Ruby Walsh Faugheen (file photo): can he reassert his Champion Hurdle credentials? Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

1.20pm – Willis Towers Watson Irish EBF Mares Hurdle (Grade 3)

All eyes will be on Let’s Dance (4/7 fav) to see if she can get back to winning ways following her crashing fall at Punchestown last month. If she is at her best, Willie Mullins’ mare should be a class above the rest here.

Forge Meadow (11/2) was the horse that picked up the pieces at her expense that day, going on to win the listed prize by a comfortable seven-and-a-half lengths. Karalee (7/1) and Lady Buttons (7/1) could also feature.

1.55pm – Neville Hotels Novice Chase (Grade 1)

Second to Penhill in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last March, Monalee‘s credentials over the three-mile trip certainly aren’t in doubt, and after making a smart start to his chasing career in Punchestown last month, it’s no surprise to see him installed as 4/5 favourite here.

Rathvinden‘s (5/1) runner-up finish to Death Duty in the Drinmore is eye-catching form, while Gordon Elliot might well expect improvement from two of his quartet here, Jury Duty (9/1) and Shattered Love (12/1).

2.30pm – Ryanair Hurdle (Grade 1)

We could try to dress this up as a contest, but with a record of 13 wins from 14 starts, there is simply nothing here that can compete with Faugheen (1/5 fav). Still, it will be a performance that could offer up some clues as to his Champion Hurdle credentials as he continues his comeback following almost two years off the track.

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Willie Mullins’ other runner, Cilaos Emery (7/1), will likely lead the ‘betting without’ market but this will hopefully be another race and performance to be savoured.

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