Fakir can fly to novice success
O'Brien horse can get better of Mullins' Laurina in Grade One
This day is earmarked by punters annually as a feast of National Hunt racing and in the space of an hour this afternoon we will be treated to three exceptional chases.
Obviously, the main event today is the King George in which LOSTINTRANSLATION (3.05 Kempton) looks ready to enhance his Gold Cup claims and bring up the second of three legs in the £1m triple crown.
But, domestically, both Leopardstown and Limerick stage two memorable novice chases.
The Racing Post Novice Chase is the feature contest down for decision in Foxrock this afternoon and it features two relative newcomers in FAKIR D'OUDAIRIES (2.20 Leopardstown) and Laurina.
The latter is better known and it shouldn't be forgotten that she was almost sent off as favourite for the Champion Hurdle last season.
The Willie Mullins-trained Laurina made a perfect start to her chasing career when winning at Gowran Park and will be a tough nut to crack today but Fakir D'oudairies was electric at Fairyhouse last time and on debut at Navan and the four-year-old can score for Joseph O'Brien and JP McManus.
The opening two maiden hurdles on this Leopardstown card are always interesting betting heats, but the market doesn't always get it right so it could be best to go with past evidence and FUSAIN (12.10 Leopardstown) made an encouraging start to his career with two decent efforts at Punchestown and then at Navan in which the winners of both races appear to be above average.
With Herald columnist Robbie Power in Kempton, that has opened the door for Sean O'Keeffe to pick up some notable spare rides for Jessica Harrington today.
Exit Poll won the bumper on this card 12 months ago and looked a big price at 12/1 when the races were chalked up on Monday, but it is possible that the runner in the second colours of owner Sean Mulryan, BUDDY RICH (12.40 Leopardstown) could come good today.
Willie Mullins holds a strong hand and Gordon Elliott is well represented but Buddy Rich raced greenly at Punchestown yet was only beaten by three parts of a length when finishing strongly again at the line.
Martin Brassil has obtained the services of Adrian Heskin and he looks value in a wide-open race.
Rachael Blackmore has become a go-to woman for punters in the last couple of seasons and it is no surprise with the ammunition she has and the results she gets.
A Leopardstown double today would be a real Christmas treat for the Tipperary native and as well as Fusain in the first she'd have to be confident of ASPIRE TOWER (1.10 Leopardstown) in the juvenile hurdle after doing everything wrong at Punchestown and still winning well.
At Limerick, it is the battle of SAMCRO (2.40 Limerick) and Faugheen that will draw a massive local crowd.
Last year was the first running of this novice chase as a Grade One and what a clash this is.
Samcro was going to win the Drinmore before falling last time out, in the view of many. Regardless of how it would have ended up, he certainly was going to be close.
Fakir D'oudairies could well boost that form just in time, while Faugheen was a bit unsure at Punchestown and that would be a concern.
Elsewhere, at Limerick, Tom Queally, who was Frankel's jockey, can ride a winner over hurdles for his father on BEE A BENEFICIARY (2.05 Limerick).
Up north at Down Royal, the Hunters Chase is worth watching and Grade One winner EDWULF (2.45 Down Royal) features during a golden hour for racing.
12.40 Buddy Rich
1.10 Aspire Tower
1.45 Exceeded Brief
2.20 Fakir D'oudairies
12.25 Bajan ExCell
2.05 Bee A Beneficiary
3.15 Young Dev
12.00 Opposites Attract
12.30 Russian Diamond
1.00 Fight For Love
1.35 Theatre World
2.10 Golden Sunset
3.20 Farouk D'alene