This weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival is must-watch stuff for Cheltenham ante-post bettors, with 15 of the 54 Cheltenham Festival winners across the last two seasons having raced at the Grade-1-studded Leopardstown bonanza a month earlier.
Facile Vega, Lossiemouth and Galopin Des Champs are all odds-on favourites to score at the DRF as well as being ante-post market leaders for their expected Cheltenham targets and the races they’ll contest this weekend have a great track record for turning up winners in March.
The Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle is a brilliant barometer
The 2m Grade 1 Novice Hurdle, previously known as the Chanelle Pharma and the Deloitte, has superb form for being won by subsequent Cheltenham novice hurdle scorers.
Despite being contested over the minimum trip it’s produced as many winners of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m4f) as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2m) since it began being contested as part of the DRF in 2018.
Samcro (2018) and Sir Gerhard (2022) both went on to land the longer of the two Cheltenham races a month after Leopardstown glory, while Klassical Dream (2019) and Appreciate It (2021) both brought up back-to-back Grade 1s by landing the Supreme at Prestbury Park.
Facile Vega is favourite to win this year’s DRF content and Betzone have boosted his odds to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham from 4/5 to 5/6
The Spring Juvenile Hurdle isn’t far behind
Since the inaugural DRF in 2018, the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle has been an excellent guide to the Triumph Hurdle, with winners of the Leopardstown contest posting form figures of 2-PU-6-1-1 at Cheltenham a month later.
That record may well have been enhanced further had 2019 Spring Juvenile scorer Sir Erec not suffered a fatal injury early in that year’s Triumph, having being sent off an 11/10 favourite.
Quixilios and Vauban have done the double across the last two seasons and Lossiemouth is a red-hot favourite to continue that streak. Willie Mullins’ mare is 1/3 to win this year’s Spring Juvenile (1.55 Saturday) and Betzone have boosted Lossiemouth’s Triumph Hurdle odds from 1/1 to 11/10
Failure in the Irish Gold Cup no barrier to Festival success
Willie Mullins fields Cheltenham Gold Cup ante-post favourite Galopin Des Champs in this Irish Gold Cup and Betzone have boosted his odds from 6/4 to 13/8 for glory in March.
Sizing John was the last horse to do the Irish and English Gold Cup double with those successes coming in 2017, a year before the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival.
However even if the seven-year-old fails to land cramped odds of 3/10 at Leopardstown, his Cheltenham backers need not despair overly. Minella Indo could only finish fourth in the 2021 edition before landing the Cheltenham version a month later.