Doncaster Racecourse

The Grade 1 Savills Chase is the feature race at Leopardstown on day three of their Christmas Festival.

Rachel Blackmore will have flown back home to Ireland on Boxing Day reflecting on an ill-judged ride on Minella Indo in the King George at Kempton Park although the bottom line is that the Gold Cup winner was simply the right horse in the wrong race.

His absence from todays field gives stablemate A Plus Tard (2.20) a gilt-edged opportunity to follow up last years success in the corresponding race when he got up close home to beat the 2016 winner Kemboy.

The selection went on to finish runner up in the Gold Cup behind Minella Indo and made a sensational seasonal debut when running away with the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. If in the same mood he will be very tough to beat. The recommendation is 8/11 at Boylesports.

Klassical Dream (1.45) looked to have the world at his feet when landing the Supreme Novice hurdle at Cheltenham back in 2019 but his career stalled until he made a sensational comeback at Punchestown back in the spring when he ran out a 9L winner returning from a 487-day lay-off.

The 7-year-old is currently 9/2 with William Hill for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and he looks sure to run a big race this afternoon given he has such a good record fresh. The 15/8 with 10Bet for this afternoon looks about right.

The obvious danger is market leader Flooring Porter who landed the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the year before bombing out at Punchestown – although you can put a line through the run as he was free to post and missed the break.

He is better than that and was a brilliant winner of this corresponding race 12 months ago before going on to Festival glory. I just favour the Willie Mullins’ trained runner, however, who is priced at 9/4 with 10Bet.

As much as I am looking forward to the return of Klassical Dream it is another Mullins’ inmate whose belated seasonal/chase debut has had me licking my lips this Festive period.

Galopin Des Champs (2.55) won the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham in March, but it was his Grade 1 novice hurdle win over three miles at Punchestown which had me purring given he had two other Festival winners well behind.

His jumping at Punchestown was not particularly slick but he travelled like a top-class horse and today’s intermediate trip of 2m 5f in the Beginners Chase looks an ideal starting point although he will not have things all his own way given Fury Road sets such a high standard over fences.

Please note Fury Road was taken out overnight to wait for Wednesday’s Grade 1.

Gordon Elliot fits cheekpieces on his gelding after he looked to throw away a grade 1 at Fairyhouse last time although I’m not convinced that was the strongest renewal of the Drinmore. Note Mullins has saddled the winner of the corresponding race four times in the last decade.

There is a terrific card at Leicester and Lebowski (3.20) would be something to bet on in the concluding handicap hurdle only for the form of the Michael Scudamore yard who have not had a winner since the selection made all at Ayr at the beginning of the month. The selection has been well placed to win both novice hurdles so far this term and does not look overburdened from an opening mark of 127.

A market move for Friary Rock – having his first start for the yard of Laura Morgan -would be significant with the Irish import fitted with a first-time hood.

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