Leopardstown Christmas Festival – Day 2 Review

Top trainers Gordon Elliott and Henry De Bromhead shared the Grade 1 races on Day 2 of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival as Mighty Potter and Envoi Allen took Monday’s main races.

Mighty Potter (5/2) was a first Grade 1 success for rider Jack Kennedy since his return from injury. The Gordon Ellliot-handled bay gelding won the €100,000 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle over 2 miles for owners Caldwell Construction Ltd. In what was a one-two for Elliott, Three Stripe Life and Davy Russell were second at 4/1.

“It was great for Jack – his first winner back,” said Gordon Elliott. “The other horse (Three Stripe Life) is also a nice horse. I was happy the whole way until the second last but he got wiped out at the second last – both horses did. Both showed guts to comeback – two nice horses for the future.”

Envoi Allen wins Grade 1 Chase

The first Grade 1 of the day, The Paddy’s Rewards Steeplechase, saw just three go to post with the early morning defection of Chacun Pour Soi. This left Battleoverdoyen, Envoi Allen and Sizing Pottsie to battle it out for the €125,000 contest over 2 miles 1 furlong.

With Sizing Pottsie prominent early doors, the Seán O’Keeffe-ridden runner was the first beaten, and would finish the race without the assistance of the rider in the saddle. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Battleoverdoyen (9/2) and Cheveley Park Stud’s Envoi Allen (2/5f) then took one another on as they battled until the final fence.

Envoi Allen, who was down from 2m 4 furlongs at Punchestown, and last season’s Aintree Grand National-winning rider Rachael Blackmore pulled clear from the last fence, eventually claiming the €73,750 first prize by seven and a half lengths from the Jack Kennedy-ridden runner-up Battleoverdoyen.

“We had a bit of scare there turning in but he put his head down,” said winning jockey Rachael Blackmore. “I think Henry was definitely right to step him back. Obviously with Chacun Pour Soi being out it changed the dynamic of the race.”

School Boy Hours claims €200,000 Paddy Power Chase

Top owner JP McManus was mob-handed in the richest race of the day, the Paddy Power Chase over 3 miles.

It was one of the low weights, School Boy Hours (12/1), carrying 10-08 that took the spoils for handler Noel Meade and jockey Seán Flanagan.

In the 28-runner field, top weight Coco Beach made most of the early running under seven-pound claimer Rob James. The early exertions took their toll as the Gigginstown House Stud runner faded before the business end of the race.

Ben Dundee (33/1), owned by Chris Jones, gave School Boy Hours most to do in the dying stages, but the McManus runner held him at bay by half a length, with Enjoy D’allen (28/1) two and a half lengths further back in third, ahead of Braeside (14/1), Death Duty and Birchdale.

Icare Allen wins on Irish debut

The French-bred Icare Allen took the opening 3-Y-O- Maiden Hurdle for Willie Mullins, jockey Mark Walsh and owner JP McManus. Walsh, who switched from another McManus-owned runner, Brazil, was a three-length victor on his Irish debut, having previously won over a mile and a half in France last August. The Peter Fahy-trained Privilege was a big-priced runner-up at 80/1 while Vera Verto (11/2) from the Gavin Cromwell yard took third.

“Lovely horse. He did it very well and had been working well at home,” Willie Mullins explained. “In fact the only bad bit of work he did was the one where I took him away to see how good he was and he worked desperate.”

Haut En Couleurs takes Beginners Chase

Willie Mullins quickly brought up a double when 1/3 favourite Haut En Couleurs won the Paddy Power Games Beginners Chase under Paul Townend. In the colours of the Donnellys, the French-bred four year old son of Saint Des Saints led home a 1-2-3 for the Closutton handler as Gentleman De Mee (5/1) took the runner-up position with front runner Mt Leinster bringing up the trifecta – both of the placed horses conceding 6 pounds to the winner.

“I think he looks Arkle material, and maybe Gentleman De Mee too,” admitted the winning handler post-race, “I think both horses will improve from the run.”

Brides Hill was game in making all in the Paddy Power ‘I’ve Had More Vaccines Than Nights Out’ Handicap Hurdle under Luke Depmsey. In the colours of the Brides Hill Syndicate, the Gavin Cromwell-trained four year old daughter of Dylan Thomas came home in splendid isolation at a price of 16/1.

About Breandán Ó hUallacháin

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