Big day at Leopardstown today – day two of the Dublin Racing Festival! The Irish Gold Cup is on the menu, serving a fin main dish.
That despite the weather turning for the worse. Saturday was such a lovely, sunny, crisp and clear winter day – 24 hours later it’s rather windy, grey and dirty. Still, there isn’t a lot of water coming down from the sky, which means the ground continued to dry out and remains on the good side.
That has seen plenty of on-runners already, and that in turn makes some of those races on the card today quite interesting betting contests.
So, unusually for me, I’ve found three pretty strong bets!
2.25 Leopardstown: Grade B Handicap, 3 miles
Despite a 7lb raise in his handicap mark, unexposed Cuneo looks ready to follow-up on an impressive Christmas success that came over course and distance. He has the making of a better than 133 rated individual, even though future will clearly be over fences.
The last time at Leopardstown, in massive 28-runner strong field, he travelled always close enough to the pace but showed signs of greenness throughout, making it a tricky ride for Rachael Blackmore.
Nonetheless Cuneo’s eye-catching progress over three out had the making of a talented individual. And even though he nearly messed things up approaching the final fence, he ran on well, while appearing to be doing as much as needed to win the race.
There should be plenty more improvement to come with this fella and if he gets a clear run of things today should be hard to stop. Even more so as he seems to enjoy good ground.
10pts win – Cuneo @ 7/2 MB
3.35 Leopardstown: Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup, 3 miles
The flagship contest of the Dublin Racing Festival has been thrown wide open with the drying ground and the withdraws of quite a few interesting runners.
That should make it a clear thing between Al Boum Photo and Road To Respect? Noel Meade’s charges enjoys good ground maybe the little bit better and is proven class – he’ll be tough to beat. On the other hand, despite his overall positive record, he’s one who can also find trouble and get beaten when he shouldn’t – in my mind.
I’m yet to be fully convinced by Al Boum Photo, particularly on this ground. Punchestown Gold Cup hero Bellshill is the more attractive Willie Mullins runner.
As the field is much smaller now than initially thought, this could turn into a tactical contest also. And that’s why I feel this is much more open than the market suggests. Probably more open than it was if anyone would have lined up?
Edwulf will appreciate any drop of rain that’s currently falling. Will it be enough? Remains to be seen.
I am keen at a massive price – though falling all the time already – on the aging Outlander. He’s not getting any younger, his best days may be beyond him. But he ran okayish, without setting the world alight, in three starts this season.
I’m pretty sure this was his target all along. Outlander loves Leopardstown – he’s a different animal here – and he loves a bit of decent ground. He was runner-up in this very race last year. So he must rate a live chance. A better one than 4% in my book.
10pts win – Outlander @ 24/1 MB
4.10 Leopardstown: Grade A Handicap Chase, 2m 5f
Competitive contest in its nature, but I feel only few are weighted to win, particularly on the rather fast ground. I can make good cases for favourite Speaker Connolly – though it’s a skinny price, really, De Name Escapes Me or Cadmium, but it’s the ever improving Cubomania who catches my eye.
The 6-year-old has been progressive over fences, ever since having a wind operation during the summer. He won five times since then, and has been a highly creditable runner-up in his last two starts.
His latest effort at Fairyhouse in particular proved he still finds more. The favourite had a bit too much speed in the end but Cubomania stayed on very strongly after a good round of jumping.
The grey will enjoy the step up in trip and has quite an excellent record on better ground. So, while he has to defy a career highest mark, there is a good chance he can find the improvement needed – as long as he gets a clear run, which is the worry if he drops in in this big field.
10pts win – Cubomania @ 13/1 MB