Pa­rade of cham­pi­ons set to light up Christ­mas Fes­ti­val

Irish Independent - Farming - - HORSES -

TOP hur­dler Faugh­een, Dou­van and Yorkhill are among a steller list of en­tries from the Wil­lie Mullins sta­ble for the four-day Leop­ard­stown Christ­mas Fes­ti­val which be­gins on St Stephen’s Day. Also ex­pected to line out from the yard of the cham­pion trainer are Un De Sceaux, Min and Djakadam.

A high-class re­newal of the Grade 1 Ryanair Hur­dle on the Fri­day will hope­fully see Faugh­een top­ping the 10 en­tries for the €100,000 two-mile event.

Star mare Ap­ple’s Jade could also fly the flag for Gor­don El­liott, while Bri­tish train­ers Nicky Henderson and Dan Skel­ton could be rep­re­sented by My Tent Or Yours and Ch’tibello.

On the open­ing day, the €90,000 Rac­ing Post Novice Chase looks to be a race to savour with 18 en­tries. Th­ese in­clude the im­pres­sive Na­van win­ners Foot­pad and Al Boum Photo head­ing Wil­lie Mullins’ chal­lenge, along with the Punchestown win­ner Bon Papa.

On the Wed­nes­day, Sam­cro puts his un­beaten record on the line in the €85,000 Paddy Power Fu­ture Cham­pi­ons Novice Hur­dle for which trainer Gor­don El­liott has also en­tered his im­pres­sive Grade 1 Bar One Rac­ing Royal Bond win­ner Mengli Khan.

Dual Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val win­ner Yorkhill heads the early en­tries for the Grade 1 Leop­ard­stown Christ­mas Chase on day three of the fes­ti­val.

Jes­sica Har­ring­ton’s Siz­ing John, the first horse to win three Gold Cups in one sea­son and crowned Horse of the Year at the an­nual Horse Rac­ing Ire­land Awards, has also been en­tered.

“The Christ­mas Fes­ti­val is our show­case event and an integral part of the Ir­ish rac­ing cal­en­dar,” said Leop­ard­stown Race­course CEO Pat Keogh.

“To see the cream of Ir­ish rac­ing tal­ent sup­port our fes­ti­val makes us very proud. We thank the own­ers, train­ers, jock­eys and spon­sors of the 28 races — it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out them. The stan­dard of en­tries is ex­cep­tional and we look for­ward to four days of top-class jumping ac­tion. We are re­ally priv­i­leged at Leop­ard­stown to host rac­ing of this cal­i­bre.”

Faugh­een made an im­pres­sive re­turn to ac­tion at Punchestown last month

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