The opening day of the Leopardstown Christmas festival is generally overshadowed by the events at Kempton Park, and is a warm-up for races such as the Lexus Chase to follow. To be brutally honest, the bookies aren’t giving much away with several short-priced favourites dominating the betting in a number of races other than the handicaps. However, this does provide an opportunity to get stuck in to a double or two.
Douvan is as solid as any Willie Mullin’s horse over the next few days and although the race features a small but exciting crop of novice chasers, I can’t see how the improving Ttebbob or Sizing John are going to get past him if he puts in a clean round of jumping. I would not be advising anyone to get stuck in at 4/7, but as part of a double he becomes more attractive.
We have opted to go with Coney Island as the first leg in the 12:15 with some strong maiden hurdle form already in the bag. He finished third behind subsequent impressive winner Marakoush on his debut, and then went on to finish less than a length second to Woodland Opera when perhaps a shade unlucky switching out wide approaching the last. The winner could be anything and is entered in the Grd 1 Novice hurdle on Sunday with the likes of Yorkhill and Long Dog. That represents the best form on offer here by miles, and his early hurdling experience should stand him in good stead with Mark Walsh doing the steering.
The Mullins/Ricci entry, Beau Mome, stopped like a light on its debut behind Marakoush finishing a disappointing 10th, so it’s hard to make a case for it on a strict line through the form at a comparable price. Ball D’arc should come on for his second start over timber but has also been beaten, and may need a longer trip. Admittedly these are maidens so improvement is expected, but as part of a double with Douvan, it looks a solid option for punters searching for value on a tricky card.
1.5pt win double Coney Island, Douvan @ 3.7/1, Leopardstown (William Hill)