The festive period is a busy time in the National Hunt racing calendar, with plenty of Cheltenham Festival hopefuls in action at the top meetings across the United Kingdom and Ireland, including at the Kempton Christmas Festival, which is headlined by the King George VI Chase, the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the Leopardstown Christmas Festival in Dublin.
It is the latter we are going to be focusing on in this article, and with Leopardstown reopening its doors to punters for their prestigious Christmas Festival, which boasts seven Grade 1s, for the first time since 2019, there will be a real buzz around the Dublin racecourse during the four-day event — which will run from 26th-29th December.
So, as the excitement builds for a meeting that is sure to attract a lot of interest in the Betdaq horse racing markets, read on as we take a look at some of the biggest races from the Leopardstown Christmas Festival…
The highlight on the penultimate day of the meeting, the Savills Chase flaunts a winning prize purse of just over €100,000. Contested over three miles and some 17 fences, the Grade 1 race dates back to 1986 and several of its winners have gone on to have success at the Cheltenham Festival, including Gold Cup victorsBobs Worth, Synchronised, Denman and the great Best Mate. Defending championA Plus Tard will be hoping to carry on that trend with a second Savills Chase victory before hopefully bettering his second place finish with a Gold Cup triumph in March. This year’s renewal promises to be a Christmas cracker with a star-studded card that includes Al Boum Photo, Minella Indo and Protektorat.
The December Festival Hurdle
The final day’s showpiece event, the December Festival Hurdle — also known as the Matheson Hurdle — is raced over two miles and just eight hurdles. First contested in 1986, the race was given Grade 1 status in 2002 and is now often considered to be the trial for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle. This year’s Hurdle promises to be one of the best races at the Christmas Festival as Sharjah, who has won the two-mile outing for three years on the trot, will go head-to-head with the unbeaten Honeysuckle in a blockbuster encounter. It could be the beginning of a new rivalry as the pair look set to go up against each other again in the defence of Honeysuckle’s Champion Hurdle crown in March.
Paddy Power Chase
With a winning prize purse of €110,000, the Paddy Power Chase is one of the more lucrative races at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Competed over three miles and 17 fences, this Extended Handicap is the main event on the second day of the meeting, which features some great races — including the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, which has a €73,750 winning jackpot up for grabs and the Future Champions Novice Hurdle (€59,000). Gordon Elliott’s duo of Conflated and The Bosses Oscar, who is on a streak of seven races without victory, are the joint favourites as the Irish trainer looks for a third victory in the race.