Kemboy, the highest-rated chaser in Ireland, heads a stellar cast of entries for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival next month.
Kemboy has been installed 7/4 joint favourite along with his Savills Chase conqueror Delta Work by the sponsors in what looks set to be one of the strongest renewals of the Grade 1 contest in many years.
The feature, which is the most valuable race run over the two days with a prize fund of €250,000, looks set to feature last year’s one-two Bellshill and Road To Respect, as well as Savills Chase fourth Presenting Percy and 2017 hero Sizing John.
Eight Grade 1 races light up the two-day jamboree, with a total prize fund of €2 million, and Leopardstown has been rewarded with an all-star list of entries.
Paddy Power are sponsoring the Irish Gold Cup for the first time and the firm’s spokesman Paul Binfield said: “We are delighted to be associated with such an iconic race and this year's renewal looks like it's going to be right up there with the best of them.
“Savils Chase winner Delta Work heads the betting but our traders took a positive view of Kemboy's effort that day, so much so that our traders can’t separate the pair at 7/4.
“The last horse to win this race and then go on to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham was Sizing John in 2017 and it would be a great story if he could return to former glories after suffering such a terrible fall at Punchestown last month.
“We are delighted to have renewed our sponsorship with Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day and our endorsement of the Irish Gold Cup highlights our commitment to horse racing.”
Elliot To Feature Heavily
Gordon Elliott, who is yet to win the Irish Gold Cup, unleashes many of his big guns across the weekend, but his major hope in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle, the feature event on the first day, will be Apple’s Jade who returned to form with a bang at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and who was a scintillating 16-length winner of the Grade 1 event 12 months ago.
Interestingly, Elliott has also entered star novices Envoi Allen and Abacadabras, while Henry De Bromhead has hinted that the two-mile contest is becoming the most likely destination for his unbeaten mare Honeysuckle, who made it six wins from six starts in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December.
Willie Mullins, who won the race six years in succession from 2011 to 2016, has four entries, headed by Matheson Hurdle winner Sharjah, while Mullins has also kept the door open for Klassical Dream to try and get his career back on track.
The Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, run as a Grade 1 for the first time, has attracted 11 top-level winners among a total of 14 entries. Willie Mullins has an extremely strong hand that features Min, winner of the last two renewals, Un De Sceaux, Footpad, Duc Des Genievres, Cilaos Emery, Chacun Pour Soi and Cadmium.
Faugheen, arguably the holder of the best piece of novice chase form this winter courtesy of his ten-length defeat of Samcro at Limerick, heads a 22-strong entry list for the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase, where he is joined by stablemates Champagne Classic, Melon, Bapaume, Laurina and Allaho.
Leopardstown are understandably delighted with the quality of entries, as racecourse CEO Tim Husbands explained: “The quality of the entries is superb, and we are grateful to the owners and trainers who continue to support Dublin Racing Festival.
“Once again, the prize money has increased for 2020 to over €2 million which will add to the excitement of this major sporting event.”