By Press Association
Delta Work and Kemboy are two of 15 entries for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on February 2.
The €250,000 contest is the most valuable event of the two-day Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown – and a fascinating contest looks in store.
Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work bounced back from a disappointing seasonal reappearance at Down Royal when lunging late to land the Savills Chase over the Irish Gold Cup course and distance during the festive period.
The Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy could finish only fourth when defending his Savills Chase crown, but will be expected to improve for what his first start since winning the Punchestown Gold Cup in May – a race that will forever be remembered as Ruby Walsh’s swansong.
The race sponsors make Delta Work and Kemboy joint-favourites at 7-4.
Mullins could also call upon last year’s winner Bellshill and Cadmium as he bids to add to his record haul of 10 wins in the race.
Elliott also has Shattered Love, Death Duty and Alpha Des Obeaux in the mix, while other hopefuls include Noel Meade’s Road To Respect, Jessica Harrington’s 2017 winner Sizing John and Warren Greatrex’s mare La Bague Au Roi.
The highlight on February 1 is the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle, which has attracted 14 hopefuls.
A four-strong Mullins team is led by Sharjah and Klassical Dream, who won and disappointed respectively in last month’s Matheson Hurdle at the Dublin circuit.
The potential opposition includes Henry de Bromhead’s unbeaten mare Honeysuckle, Harrington’s 2018 Irish Champion Hurdle hero Supasundae and the resurgent Apple’s Jade from Elliott’s yard.
Interesting, Elliott has also entered star novice hurdlers Envoi Allen and Abacadabras.
The first of eight Grade Ones over the two days is the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘€50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle.
Envoi Allen tops an Elliott entry of 10, while a 12-strong Mullins team includes Asterion Forlonge and Blue Sari.
Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition is another major player.
The Mullins-trained Min could bid for a third successive win in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, although the Closutton maestro possesses a formidable squad, with Un De Sceaux, Cilaos Emery and Chacun Pour Soi also engaged.
De Bromhead’s A Plus Tard inflicted a shock defeat on Chacun Pour Soi last month and the pair could renew rivalry.
Nicky Richards’ course regular Simply Ned also holds an entry.
Eight different trainers have entered 16 horses for the Grade One ERSG Arkle Novice Chase, with Henry De Bromhead responsible for leading fancy Notebook, who made it three wins over fences at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
He beat the Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’Oudairies to land the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase and the pair could clash again in a race where the impressive Naas winners Cash Back and Bapaume, as well as Leopardstown winner Melon could also play a part for Mullins.
The action on the following afternoon begins with the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle, which is set to feature De Bromhead’s hugely-exciting course scorer Aspire Tower.
The aforementioned pair of Abacadabras and Envoi Allen are in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, which also features Peter Fahey’s Limerick scorer Soviet Pimpernel.
Battleoverdoyen and Faugheen lead the way for Elliott and Mullins respectively in the Flogas Novice Chase. Minella Indo is a notable entry for De Bromhead.
Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown, said: “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 two million euro, which will add to the excitement of this major sporting event.”