Leopardstown Preview – 29th December

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Melon

Neville Hotels Novice Chase

Delta Work had a very fruitful campaign last season which ended on two high notes by landing the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and then running a fine race to finish runner-up in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown. He’s looked a natural over the larger obstacles this season and was a fine winner of the Grade 1 Drinmore beating Le Richebourg. That rival franked the form at Leopardstown and he will prove difficult to beat.

Henry De Bromhead has his string in fine form at present and Judgement Day has been a prime example of this. He was beaten a head-on chase debut but has since won four in a year over fences and has looked better with each run. If he continues this progression then the winning run may not be over.

It’s hard to see past Delta Work, to be honest, and the remainder of the field, which is made up by Ben Dundee, Blow By Blow, Moonshine Bay, Mortal and Nick Lost will struggle to land a blow if the favourite turns up.

Selection: Delta Work

Ryanair Hurdle

Samcro tops the market, with Gordon keen on aiming him down the Champion Hurdle route with one of his stable stars. There had been much talk over the summer as to where last season’s Ballymore winner would go but these questions were answered when Samcro lined up in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal where he suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Bedrock.

Samcro looked laboured when Jack Kennedy pressed the button at the back of the second last which would leave him with plenty to find if he wanted to be a genuine Champion Hurdle horse. Gordon said after the defeat that none of his horses have been away for work so he expects them all to improve for there first run.

He then made the trip to Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth where Buveur D’Air proved too good for him. That is still strong from and he looks the one to beat.

Melon represents the master of Closutton in this and was another horse that fell into the “banker” category when he lined up in the 2017 edition of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Unfortunately for those who piled in at the prohibitive prices, Melon was swamped late on by the enigmatic Labailk.

Incredibly that was only his second career start and although he’s only got his head in front twice, he did finish second to Buveur D’Air in last season’s Champion Hurdle, which is some of the best form on offer. If he returns in anything like this form then Melon will prove a tough nut to crack.    

Another Mullins representative is Sharjah who won the Galway Hurdle and then went on to shock people by overturning Faugheen most recently. The speedy gelding is very exciting but may just be outclassed here.

Supasundae was last seasons Irish Champion Hurdle winner and was one of the most consistent horses in training, with placings in Grade 1’s in each of his starts. He was beaten some twenty lengths behind Apple’s Jade on season debut but always improves for his first run and must have a live chance.

Selection: Melon

Leopardstown Preview – 29th December
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