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Stars come out for Dublin Racing Festival

Wednesday, 6th February, 2019 1:10pm
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Stars come out for Dublin Racing Festival

Apple's Jade and Jack Kennedy wing a flight when winning the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1). Leopardstown. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post

Stars come out for Dublin Racing Festival

Apple's Jade and Jack Kennedy wing a flight when winning the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1). Leopardstown. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post

Dublin's second Racing Festival on Saturday and Sunday proved to be a resounding success, as one prominent trainer said to me we have Cheltenham at home.

His words had a ring of truth about them as with eight Grade1 races down for decision, not to mention the Grade 2 and Grade 3 action.

The unusually quick ground for this time of year meant that there were some withdrawals, however, the standard of horses in action was top of the range and many of the winners will be bankers for the huge contingent of Irish punters heading to the Cotswolds next month.

Commander Of Fleet got the Grade1 action off to a flying start when he battled well to take the opening to mile and six Novice Hurdle on the first day.

An impressive winner of the Land Rover Bumper last term, the son of the ill fated Fame and Glory was pitched in at the deep end in the Grade1 Royal Bond Hurdle on his most recent appearance. He failed to fire on that occasion as the two mile trip was wholly inadequate and connections were confident that he would be much a better animal over this longer distance. This assessment was right on the button as he came from off the pace to jump the last in front and stay on strongly to defeat Rhinestone by half a length.

Cheltenham is now very much on his agenda with the Albert Bartlett the target but his trainer Gordon Elliott was at pains to point out that he is a chaser in the making and he will make the transition in the autumn.

That phenomenal mare Apple's Jade set the Foxrock venue alight with a scintillation display to land the Grade1 Irish Champion Hurdle, doing handstands and become the first mare to win Grade1 races over two mile and a half miles and three miles.

Owner Michael O'Leary has always insisted that the Mares Hurdle at the festival would be her objective, however, after this display the first sign of a change of heart began to appear when he announced that he is having a rethink and might yet aim her at the Champion Hurdle instead was sweet music to the ears of the many punters who see her as a huge threat to the dual and reigning champion Buveur D'Air.

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