The Grade 1 Paddypower Chase is the feature race on Day 2 of the Christmas festival at Leopardstown. This two-mile one-furlong contest looks to be an absolute cracker, with Footpad, Ballyoisin and Great Field all set to face the starter.
Footpad tops the market and was one of the standout two-mile chaser last season including when winning the Arkle at Cheltenham. He was well beaten when falling at the last on seasonal reappearance at Naas. The vibes from Closutton have been that he’s back firing on all cylinders. If so then he will prove difficult to beat.
Ballyoisin has been very progressive and has won his last four starts including the Garde 2 Fortria Chase. He won’t have things all his own way on the front end and I think he will come up just short in this company.
Great Field is spectacular and frustrating in equal measure, he has won six of his eight career starts but is prone to the odd mistake, which resulted in him coming to grief at the second fence most recently. Jody McGarvy gets on very well with him but with such pace in the race, the fences came come too quick and a fall looks more likely than a victory.
Champions Novice Hurdle
The race seems to revolve around Triplicate, who was a decent horse on the flat for Aidan O’Brien and has progressed well over hurdles. He beat Aramon on two occasions including in the Grade 1 Royal Bond, where only Quick Grabim proved too good.
The other JP McManus runner in here is Sancta Simona, who bids for a hat-trick of victories and is the choice of Barry Gerathy. Daly Tiger looks the other runner with a chance but I find it hard to see him being good enough here.
This €200,000 contest will be one of the most hotly contested handicaps of the season. It’s no surprise that a full field of twenty-eight runners go to post for this and sticking a pin in the paper may be the best way to pick the winner. That being said I’ll try to unravel this tricky handicap.
Black Scorpion has come a long way in the last year, considering he finished fourth in a handicap at Limerick this time last year off a mark of 115 and now has a live chance in a valuable handicap off 131. He ran very well to finish third in the Munster National when last seen in action and must enter calculations.
One of the older brigades is Carlingford Lough but the now twelve-year-old may have one big day left in him. He hasn’t got his head in front since the PaddyPower Gold Cup back in 2016 but he’s now down fourteen pounds and his trainer John Kiely is something of a genius.
JP McManus has a total of ten runners and one of the more interesting of them is the Ted Walsh trained Any Second Now who was a very smart novice chaser two seasons back but has been a beaten favourite on his last three starts, which is worrying. Ted Walsh has reached for the blinkers on the horse which may bring out more improvement.
The Henry De Bromhead trained Solomn Grundy sneaks in here off bottom weight and was a fine second to De Name Escapes Me on his first start for the trainer in the Foxrock Handicap. De Bromhead puts up a fine seven-pound claimer on board and with a featherweight and possible improvement to come, he could be the answer.
Selection: Any Second Now