ST STEPHEN’S DAY IRISH RACING PREVIEWS

Horse 3Venue: LEOPARDSTOWN Date: 26 December 2014 First race: 12.15 (seven races – Jumps) Going: Yielding (Soft in places) “Vautour the star attraction on a big day for Willie Mullins and leading owners Susannah and Rich Ricci” •CHAMPION trainer Willie Mullins and his biggest owners, Rich and Susannah Ricci, head into St Stephen’s Day racing with three of their biggest stars in action. At Kempton Champagne Fever forms part of a ten-runner King George field, while Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen odds-on to win the Christmas Hurdle. Meanwhile Vautour, the yard’s star novice chaser, is the warm favourite to win the feature on day one of the Christmas festival at Leopardstown, the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. •Supreme Novice Hurdle winner was hugely impressive on his chase debut at Navan and his chance of winning under Paul Townend on Friday is underlined by the fact that his main opponent looks to be Clarcam, the horse he beat easily that day. •Mullins, Townend and the Riccis will be odds-on too to win the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at 1.20pm with Kalkir, one of the favourites for this season’s Triumph Hurdle after a smooth victory at Fairyhouse last time. He impressed on his first run in Ireland and his connections will hope that he can stay on the Cheltenham track with victory on St Stephen’s Day. •Last year’s winner King Vuvuzela is back for more in the Racing Post for Irish Racing Handicap Chase at 2.20pm. A winner last year under Bryan Cooper, he will be partnered on Friday by Mikey Fogarty for trainer Paul Nolan. •The high class seven-race card at Leopardstown on Friday starts at 12.15. Venue: LIMERICK Date: 26 December 2014 First race: 12.30 (seven races – Jumps) Going: Soft to Heavy (Heavy in places) on hurdle track, Soft (Soft to Heavy in places) on chase track “Gilgamboa and Adriana Des Mottes clash in a novice chase to savour” •LIMERICK’S Christmas festival reaches new heights this week with the feature race on all four days being broadcast live on RTE. And viewers are in for a treat on Friday when the Shannon Airport Novice Chase will be shown live, featuring some of Ireland’s top young novices. Gilgamboa, Adriana Des Mottes and Wounded Warrior all line up for the Grade 2 contest, ensuring a race to savour. •There is plenty of quality elsewhere on the card including the Signsplus Hurdle at 1.05 where leading owners Giggistown House Stud provide the conundrum. They field three of the eight runners in the race and all three hail from different trainers: All Hell Let Loose from Sandra Hughes’, Marinero from Tony Martin’s and Urticaire from Willie Mullins’. It’s an exciting race and a lovely appetiser for the novice chase an hour later. •The seven-race card at Limerick on Friday starts at 12.30. Venue: DOWN ROYAL Date: 26 December 2014 First race: 12.30 (seven races – Jumps) Going: Soft “Some of the country’s top hunter chases head north for Down Royal’s Boxing Day fixture” •DOWN ROYAL’s December 26 fixture is always renowned for attracting our top hunter chases and this Friday is no different. On The Fringe, the winner of the champion hunters at Punchestown, takes on a huge field of 15 rivals including the talented James and a fascinating runner from Shark Hanlon’s yard. Luska Lad was a tremendous hurdler for Hanlon and owner Barry Connell and has already impressed as a hunter. He lines up on Friday with Rachel Blackmore in the saddle and it should be a fascinating contest. •The opening beginners chase at 12.30 would not look out of place at Leopardstown and features two high class hurdlers for whom the penny is surely about to drop over fences. Empire Of Dirt ran really well at Navan last time and forms part of a strong book of rides for Kevin Sexton at Down Royal, and he probably has Drumlee as his chief opponent in this. •The seven-race card at Down Royal on Friday starts at 12.30.

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