It is the third and final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival on Sunday and there would be no better way to finish it than with the Ryanair Hurdle.
Ryanair Hurdle (Grade 1)
Hurricane Fly is expected to go off as odds-against favourite for the first time in an Irish Grade One for three years. The record-breaking, class-act has started all of his 10 Irish starts since winning this in 2010 odds-on.
The 17-time Grade One winner was far from his best at Punchestown on his reappearance; however Mullins will have him much more in shape for this now. William Hill offer the best odds of 5/4 for the 9-year-old who won this last year.
Our Conor is the second favourite at 5/2 best price with Paddy Power for this race, which is set to be the best line-up for a Irish Hurdle for many years.
The four-year-old will be facing older horses for the first time which is sure to be a big step up, however he won the Triumph at Cheltenham in March with one of the finest performances seen in the race in recent years.
Finally, Jezki is slightly behind Our Conor in the betting at 11/4 with Ladbrokes. He has won four Grade One’s and has only been beaten once over hurdles. Another bonus is the booking of A P McCoy, who has won 2 out of 2 when paired with the 5-year-old.
Topaz Novice Chase (Grade 1)
The penultimate race of the day is the other Grade One, which Morning Assembly leads the betting for. Coral are one of a number of firms offering 11/8 for the impressive 6-year-old, who recorded an impressive victory over the well-regarded Don Cossack at Punchestown.
Bright New Dawn did well over hurdles last term and made a good start over fences when conceding 12lb to Dogora. Galway Plate winner, Carlingford Lough was not beaten far by Don Cossack at Fairyhouse and with McCoy booked can put a good test to the favourite.
The other four entries cannot be ignored though and all warrant respect for this tricky contest.
IFG E.B.F. Mares Hurdle (Grade 3)
The other high quality race splits the two Grade Ones and the unbeaten Upsie leads the betting for the Grade 3 hurdle.
Upsie struggled throughout the race when she beat three rivals at Cork, but Mullins will be hoping his odds-on favourite can be steered to another victory under McCoy.
Stablemate, Urticaire has won 6 of her 8 starts and ran comfortably to victory at Navan last time. She cannot be ignored, being 6lb better off than the favourite, however Jennies Jewel could pose equally as much threat.
She ran exceptionally well in a Grade B at Navan and will put pressure on the two Mullins’ entries despite the rise in quality.
Love Rory and Baily Dusk both look decent for the first race of the meeting, representing decent value at 8/1 and 5/1 respectively. Sea Light won well here on St. Stephens Day and may well go on to land a hat-trick in the 12:55.
The Ryanair Maiden Hurdle looks a tricky one for punters, with Blue Bicycle, Rockdown and Shanahan’s Turn all in strong contention.
In the final race of the meeting, Value At Risk looks difficult to oppose, however Yes Sir Brian and Fort Smith are both sure to run a big race.
BET OF THE DAY:
Leopardstown 3:05 – MORNING ASSEMBLY to win at 11/8 with Coral.
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