Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan AP McCoy on his way to winning the Paddy Power steeplechase on board Colbert Station.
# Leopardstown
Mark Your Card: the best bets for today’s Grade racing
The big question on everyone’s lips is ‘will Flemenstar stay?’ Your answer may be just a click away.

THE WHITE FLAG will be raised about 3pm today for the Grade 1 Lexus Chase worth €93,000 to the winner.

Run over three miles it has attracted nine runners and it’s a race we’ve all being waiting for for some time. The big question on everyone’s lips is, “will Flemenstar stay?”

All those who are connected to the horse say that he will and they know him best.

Lexus Chase

China Rock hasn’t been seen in public since winning the Punchestown Gold Cup in April. He’s had his problems and I think he’ll have to wait for another day.

First Lieutenant won two Grade 3 races last season as a novice but arguably his best result was when runner up to Bobs Worth in the RSA at Cheltenham.

He was third again to Bobs Worth, beaten by eight lengths, in the Hennessy at Newbury at the beginning of the month. He should be boxing on at the finish but might find a few quicker than him.

Tomorrow is a big test for Flemenstar and tactics could be crucial. I suspect his jockey Andrew Lynch will be glad of a lead of the first half of the race and get into a nice rhythm and then use his jumping ability to kick on.

Hidden Cyclone was off the course for nine months while his has handler Shark Hanlon’s stable was ravaged by a virus. He reappeared at Naas in October where he accounted for the useful Foildubh over two miles before impressing over two miles, four furlongs with a comfortable win at Gowrann Park.

Colbert Station, winner of yesterday’s Paddy Power Chase was back in fourth. Hidden Cyclone could be open to plenty of improvement and is an interesting runner but I doubt whether at this stage he is good enough to win.

Midnight Chase likes to bowl along on front but a place is the best he can hope for while Pandorama who won this race in 2010 hasn’t run since March 2011 and is best watched.

Quito De La Roque is fitted with cheek pieces tomorrow a very disappointing effort at Aintree last time. He’s hard to fancy on present form.

Sir Des Champs will be trying to reverse form with Flemenstar and over a longer trip and on better ground should go close. It will be fascinating to see the tactics employed here.

Tidal Bay has been rejuvenated this year and will be staying on strongly at the finish if there’s a good pace set.

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All in all an intriguing race in prospect and I can barely separate Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs. I just have a sneaking feeling that Flemenstar can continue the good run and make him the selection. Let’s hope they all come back safe and sound.

Topaz Novice Chase

13 have been declared for the Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase and it looks to be at the mercy of Back In Focus who has been impressive in his last two runs. The step up in trip should help.

Dedigout looks best of the rest. He should also benefit from the step up in trip and he was given an impossible task the last day against Avrika Legeonnaire. His previous run was much more like him and he should at least make a race of it.

Aupcharlie jumps for fun and the 9/1 at present looks attractive e.w. value. Mount Benbulben’s jumping can let him down for all his talent. It’s hard to see beyond Back In Focus to give Willie Mullins another winner.

Grade 2:  Christmas Hurdle

Due off at 1.25, there is little to chose between Zaidpour and Monksland in this one. Voler La Vedette is on a recovery mission but is hard to to be confident about. The step up in trip won’t inconvenience Monksland while Zaidpour, who beat him the last day, is reported to have strengthened up this season.

I’ve flip flopped between the two all day but just about favour Zaidpour. Keep an eye on Weapons Amnesty who returns for the first time since March 2010.

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