A switch from Sunday’s card means the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase now takes centre stage along with the Boylesports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase is at 13:45 and sees only three runners but this race is not lacking in class. Arvika Ligeonniere has been the top novice this season and added a Grade One here over Christmas.
On that occasion he comfortably got the better of both of these rivals and they are meeting on the same terms today. Oscar Wells looks second best to Mullins’s charge while Benefficient has 16 lengths to find from somewhere.
The Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle is this year, once again an extremely hot contest. This is always one of the season’s toughest handicaps to unravel but there’s no denying the obvious chance of Inis Meain 4/1 in the 3:20 contest. His progressive Flat form of last year saw the six year old racking up four victories and his Flat rating rise a remarkable 52lb to a mark of 99.
He remains very much unexposed over obstacles, having competed over hurdles on just six occasions, he would appear very nicely treated off a mark of 120. If his abilities on the flat transform to the jumping circuit it would mean he holds every chance.
Denis Hogan who trains and rides the horse said: “Ideally I’d have liked to get a run into him before Leopardstown, but we can do the work with him at home. He’s the favourite for the race and I’d hope he’d have a big chance, but it’s a 30-runner handicap and you need a lot of luck.”
Another strong contender is the Tony Martin-trained Edeymi 25/1, who won his prep race at Dundalk last week for owners Gigginstown House Stud. The five-year-old, who is lightly raced could run a good race at an attractive price.
Other horses with a chance are King Of Queens 12/1 and Shadow Catcher 16/1. Both horses could have the ability to win and the potential to prove better than their current marks as well. Last year’s winner Citizenship is another horse with a good chance.
Although 8lbs higher this year, Kevin Sexton takes off a valuable 7lbs which makes Harrington’s charge excellent value at 25/1.
Hidden Cyclone 5/1 did not settle in the Lexus. Today theShark Hanlon drops him back in both class and distance for the Leopardstown Handicap Chase. He has clear claims for the Grade A contest despite the high weight.
JP McManus has five interesting contenders for the race. Thegreatjohnbrowne seemed to be a chaser heading in the right direction before being out for 730 days. He ran in the Paddy Power since and if improved he could be in an interesting contender for Noel Meade.
Sweet My Lord for Willie Mullins could be the one to side with off his low weight and his attractive 8/1 price.
The champion trainer should get the meeting off to a flyer with Fatcatinthehat in the opening Leopardstown.com Maiden Hurdle at 1.10. He looked sure to win until crashing out at the last-flight Punchestown on his last appearance and with a clear round shouldn’t have any major problems.
Marito looks is sure to be popular to take the Boylesports.com – Bet On Your Mobile Novice Steeplechase (Grade 2) at 2:15. The horse that could be beneficial to side with is Texas Jack. Always a classy horse he ran a cracking race in Grade One company the last day and should be good enough to take this at 5/1. An obvious danger is Mount Benbulben at 2/1. His jumping is a serious issue and could once again deny him here today.
Dermot Weld, who has won the www.leopardstown.com (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race twice in the last three seasons presents newcomer Willow Island. He is sure to be well supported and to attract plenty of attention for the closing contest.