Dublin Racing Festival – Should You Back Or Avoid The Grade 1 Favourites?

Cheltenham Festival is creeping closer but we’ll get plenty of clues for it this weekend at the Dublin Racing Festival. The best of the Irish will battle against each other over the two days, with a total of EIGHT Grade 1 races to look forward to at Leopardstown this weekend. 

Plenty of the Grade 1’s have short-priced runners heading the betting, so we’ve looked at whether you should back or avoid the favourites in each of the Grade 1’s!




Nathaniel Lacy & Solicitors Novice Hurdle (1.20pm)


Willie Mullins’ star impressed on hurdles debut but was well beaten by Caldwell Potter in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle last time out, and this will be a big step up in trip for him. He will face plenty of rivals who are already proven at the trip and come into the race with winning form, so he could be worth taking on. 

Verdict – AVOID

McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.50pm)


He could hardly have been more impressive on hurdles debut, but the form of that race hasn’t worked out all that well (although the third did win next time out). However, there are plenty of other unexposed runners in here who could prove better options to side with, including Majborough, who won impressively on his sole hurdles race in France and could be anything on stable debut. 

Verdict – AVOID

Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase (2.25pm)


The unbeaten gelding looks hard to oppose in here, having oozed class in his chase debut over C&D in December. He looks to have taken to fences well and the current Arkle ante-post favourite should be winning this before heading to Cheltenham Festival. Facile Vega will need to put his last effort behind and will likely be the biggest danger, but he’d have to put in a career best performance to beat Marine Nationale. 

Verdict – BACK

Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3.35pm)


Returned to his brilliant best when romping to a 14 length victory in the Savills Chase last time out, and deserves his place at the head of the betting in here. Fastorslow has beaten him twice in the last 12 months, but if GDC is in top form (which his last run suggests he is), we can expect Willie Mullins star to land this before bidding to retain his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown in March. 

Verdict – BACK




Ladbrokes Novice Chase (1.10pm Sunday)


There’s no denying that Gaelic Warrior is a machine and has won both chase starts with relative ease. However, there is no guarantee he will be as effective going left-handed, and with the likes of Fact To File and Grangeclare West in here, he could be worth taking on. All five runners in here are in with a chance, so this could be one race it could pay to take on the favourite. 

Verdict – AVOID

Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle (1.40pm Sunday)


Ballyburn may have lost on hurdles debut, but he made amends next time out with an effortless win at this course last time out and it’s hard to make a case for any of the other runners in the field. Farren Glory would be the danger, but he fell last time out and there’s every chance that could affect his confidence. Ballyburn looks to have plenty of raw talent and could be something special.

Verdict – BACK

Labrokes Dublin Chase (2.10pm Sunday)


El Fabiolo had a superb debut season over fences last year, winning the Irish Arkle, Arkle and the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase in impressive fashion. He returned to action with another classy performance and it’s difficult to see any of these four rivals mounting a serious challenge to him. He should be capable of landing this in straightforward fashion before heading to the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. 

Verdict – BACK

Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle (2.45pm Sunday)


By far the second best two mile hurdler in training currently behind Constitution Hill, State Man has continued in the same form this season and should be able to win this comfortably enough. The 7YO was ultra impressive in the Matheson Hurdle last time out over C&D, finishing comfortably clear of runner-up Impaire Et Passe and there’s no reason that form should reverse here. 

Verdict – BACK

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