GAVIN CROMWELL: Brand Ambassador Gavin Cromwell is looking forward to a cracking day’s racing at Leopardstown on Saturday, in which he has five runners, including stable favourite Darver Star.
We’re really looking forward to this weekend. The Dublin Racing Festival has become a huge part of the season and given its six or so weeks ahead of Cheltenham, it means you can run horses in all of the big races here before the Festival in March.
We’ve only got a handful of runners, but the majority are running in the Grade 1s which is fantastic for us. Here is my take on those as well as a couple in the handicaps.
We begin with Vanillier in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Novice Hurdle (1.05pm) over 2m6f. He was second in a Grade 2 at Limerick and he’ll need to step up a bit on that to be in with a chance here. Hopefully he can because the track and trip should suit and with any luck he can pick up some prize money.
We’re looking forward to running Darver Star in the Irish Arkle (2.10pm). We had considered going up in distance with him, but at the moment we think 2 miles is his best trip. We’ve always had the Arkle at Cheltenham as his main target and while you need speed to win that race you also need a bit of a stamina, so the fact he might stay a bit further is no bad thing. He ran really well at Christmas and if things had worked out differently he could already be a Grade 1 winner. He’s been in great form since then and it was good to see that the ground is drying up a bit at Leopardstown as he’s definitely more at home on a sounder surface.
Energumene will be a tough nut to crack, but Darver really seems to come into his own at this time of the year as shown by his third in the Champion Hurdle last year. We think he’s a very good horse and fingers crossed he can show that on Saturday.
It’s looking pretty unlikely that Ujumpthelastuwin will get into the Grade B handicap chase (2.45pm) which is pretty unfortunate as we were quite sweet on his chances. We think plenty of him, especially with such a low weight in a handicap as competitive as this. We’ve just got to hope a couple come out and he’s allowed to take his chance.
We’re sending Gabynako into handicap company for the first time in the Grade B handicap hurdle (3.50pm). He was third in a Group 1 the last day and we’re hoping calmer waters here will suit. It’s obviously a bit of a worry that he doesn’t have any experience in a big-field handicap like this, but we won’t know whether he takes to it or not until he tries it. If he does settle and warm to the task, then he’s more than capable of making his presence felt.
We round things off with Letsbeclearaboutit in the Grade 2 bumper (4.25pm). I’ve said in the past how much we think of him and nothing has changed. We’re very hopeful he’ll be one who we’ll be talking about in the future and he’s a horse we’re certainly lucky to have in the yard. The ground will probably be soft come post time which shouldn’t be too much of a worry, although he does have to give weight away having won two bumpers already this season.
You just have to look back at the roll of honour of this race to see the calibre of horse that usually run in it, but our lad has done nothing wrong so far and although he was beaten the last day, he was actually coming back to the winner at the finish. We think the world of him and hopefully he can put in a bold show.