Dublin Racing Festival: Nicholls eyes Grade One prizes

Thu 13 Jan 2022

Paul Nicholls is readying Frodon, Clan Des Obeaux and Greaneteen for the Dublin Racing Festival as the 12-time champion trainer looks to take on the best names in Irish jumps racing on home turf at Leopardstown next month.

 Paul Nicholls is lining up three Grade One winners for the Dublin Racing Festival (Photo: Focusonracing)
Paul Nicholls is lining up three Grade One winners for the Dublin Racing Festival (Photo: Focusonracing)

Nicholls has won the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup both as jockey and trainer -aboard Playschool in 1998 and then with Neptune Collonges in 2009 - and Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux both feature among 18 entries for the flagship contest this time on Saturday, February 5.

Nicholls is also set to run Queen Mother Champion Chase hopeful Greaneteen in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase on the Sunday of the showpiece fixture.

Assistant trainer Harry Derham said: “That is the plan at the moment. Both Frodon and Greaneteen prefer a sounder surface, and racing out there the ground has looked good – so that is the plan.

“As Paul always says, you have to have the appropriate horses in the appropriate races and it is no good going over there for the sake of it, really.

“In the shape of Greaneteen and Frodon – and with Clan Des Obeaux, who is also entered in the race that Frodon is in – you have got obviously really smart horses, Grade One animals, and the conditions of those races in terms of the ground and the track will suit them well, so if you have got the appropriate horse, then it is wise to take them on.

“There is no point going over there with the wrong animal, so that’s why they are entered.”

The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, worth €250,000, has the carrot of a €150,000 bonus to the winning connections if their horse can also land the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Only three horses have managed such a feat – the British-trained Jodami (1993), Irish-trained Imperial Call (1996) and most recently in 2017 when Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John did the double.

Clan Des Obeaux’s King George VI Chase conqueror Tornado Flyer is part of an eight-strong entry from Willie Mullins, who has also engaged last year’s winner Kemboy, Melon and Asterion Forlonge.

Galvin, successful in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, Mount Ida, Delta Work and Run Wild Fred are on the Gordon Elliott team, while Minella Indo and Eklat De Rire have been entered by Henry de Bromhead.

Mullins also has a strong hand in the Dublin Chase with Allaho, Ferny Hollow, Energumene and the 2020 and 2021 winner Chacun Pour Soi among the nine horses he has entered.

Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen heads the British contingent, which also includes progressive Editeur Du Gite, trained by Gary Moore, and Jonjo O’Neill’s Cheltenham Festival scorer Sky Pirate.

Star mare Honeysuckle tops the dozen entries for the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle as she bids to become only the third horse after Istabraq and Hurricane Fly to win the race on more than two occasions.

She completed a hat-trick of wins in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on her seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse in November.

The Kenny Alexander-owned eight-year-old is bidding to extend her remarkable unbeaten winning streak to 14 under Rachael Blackmore before heading to the Cheltenham Festival in March to defend her Champion Hurdle crown.

The Spring Juvenile Hurdle has attracted 14 entries including Fil Dor, unbeaten in three starts over hurdles for Elliott, and another Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner, the Mullins-trained Icare Allen.

First and second in the Racing Post Novice Chase at the course over Christmas, Mullins’ Ferny Hollow and Elliott’s Riviere D’etel might well clash again in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase.

There are 10 entries for the race with Mullins’ Blue Lord and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Embittered and Busselton also in the mix.

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