The feature race on the card sees Footpad take on the unbeaten Death Duty in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Two novices that I am personally looking forward to seeing go head-to-head.
There is another novice chaser in the shape of LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY running in his first handicap fresh from a Novice Grade 3 victory at Roscommon on heavy ground in September.
The Joseph O’Brien trained entrant has already got an enviable CV at the tender age of four with a second in Group 2 company over the flat and two Grade 3 victories over hurdles, not to mention a fifth in the Triumph Hurdle which saw his mark go to 144 over timber last season.
He comes into this race off an opening chase mark of 133, and receives a massive 7lbs weight-for-age allowance from his rivals. That could prove to be decisive in what is a race that looks like it will be dominated by up-and-coming chasers.
Admittedly, Landofhopeandglory is probably a better horse with a sounder surface underfoot, but this former high class flat performer is no mug on a softer surface having picked up three wins from his six with cut underfoot. The groundsman for the course have also remarked that it is in great condition given how mild the weather has been recently and despite some rain over the last 24hrs, I can’t imagine the going will inconvenience him too much having been good-yielding prior to Christmas Day.
Calino D’airy looks like he could have a touch of class as well, and is feared back in this company, but he concedes 11lbs to his younger rival and lost his unbeaten record last time out.
Blast Of Koeman also looks to be finally getting his act together and should improve further, but I think it could take more than a 4lb pull in the weights to overturn the selection with further progress expected having last run in September.
With Mullins and Elliot having a strong hand in the vast majority of races on the card, this could be an excellent bit of placement from the McManus team on day one of the Christmas Festival and Landofhopeandglory is expected to go one better than his defeat by Bapaume at the same meeting last year.
1pt win Landofhopeandglory @4/1, 14:55 Leopardstown, Tuesday