By Richard Hoiles
There was little doubt that the Dublin Winter Festival at Leopardstown held centre stage over the weekend. To achieve two days of such quality racing required the Irish authorities and tracks to work together in a spirit seldom seen on this side of the Irish Sea.
In what could prove a very handy weekend in bringing together the best of the Irish on the build up to Cheltenham the undoubted stars were Footpad and Samcro who look destined to have the mantle of ‘Irish bankers’ foisted on them at Cheltenham.
Min was impressive on the day but the race looked to set up perfectly for him and he might have been seen to maximum effect.
Many were disappointed by Faugheen’s defeat at the hands of Supasundae but it would be no surprise if he had been handled with kid gloves since his inexplicably bad run on his previous start.
He looked just to lack sharpness and with the run under his belt he could well be a different proposition at Cheltenham next month.Samcro was one of the stars of the Duiblin Winter Festival (PA)
At least his race on Saturday provided more of a test than another farcically uncompetitive Contenders Hurdle at Sandown won by Buveur D’Air at 1-16, the fifth long odds-on favourite in a row to win the race.
This race should be top of the list in any overhaul of the number of similar contests that allow too many top horses to dodge each other in little more than exercise gallops.
With both National Hunt meetings facing inspections, my the selections for Tuesday largely focus on the all-weather meeting at Southwell starting with:
1.30 Southwell: Pacific Fleet
The ability to get an early position is what tips the balance in favour of Archie Watson’s Pacific Fleet over Dawn Dancer.
Hopefully there will be no rustiness after a six-month absence otherwise stall 1 could prove a poisoned chalice but he made the running last time at York in a race that has worked out solidly and has the bloodlines to suggest this surface should not be a problem.
2.00 Southwell: Foxy Lady
It is also Foxy Lady’s first run at Southwell but his sire Foxwedge has had two winners on the surface from just a handful of runners including 20-1 chance Port Soif a few weeks ago.
Again, a forward position could be important as in this case there does not look to be a great deal of pace in the race. The stable’s past three runners have all won (2-1, 7-1 and 9-2) and are clearly thriving.
3.05 Southwell: Pearl Acclaim
David Griffiths is a master at keeping sprinters on the boil, excelling with such as Duke of Firenze and Take Cover, and so it may be wrong to assume that despite a rise in the weights that course specialist Pearl Acclaim has reached his ceiling.
His course and distance form figures are 11213 and even though he has risen in the weights he was rated higher than this in his youth.
Future Security looks of interest on his first start for Dan Skelton.
Lightly raced in recent seasons he was last seen when scoring at Nancy in France for Christian von der Recke but if he holds together physically could have a bit to offer for his new yard.
Much travelled during his career he won’t mind the icy weather either, having also won on the snow at St Moritz!
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