Gigginstown House Stud will be looking to potential future stars to provide them with more great memories at the Dublin Racing Festival.
The racing operation of Ryanair supremo Michael O’Leary is no stranger to success at Leopardstown’s flagship meeting, winning the feature Irish Gold Cup with both Conflated and Delta Work in recent years, and also picking up the Irish Champion Hurdle with Apple’s Jade.
The 2022 hero Conflated will be back again to do battle with Galopin Des Champs in the feature event of Saturday’s card, but the main hopes of success lie earlier in the day, when both Storm Heart and Predators Gold head into their respective contests as betting favourites.
Both trained by Willie Mullins, it is Predators Gold who could give Gigginstown the perfect start to the meeting in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle, with the five-year-old stepping up in trip following his Grade One runner-up effort over two miles behind Caldwell Potter at Christmas.
“He won his maiden over two and a half miles, then came back in trip at Christmas,” said Eddie O’Leary of Gigginstown.
“His run over two was very good but this is very much more his trip. We will see where we are with him.”
Predators Gold is immediately followed by ultra-impressive Punchestown scorer Storm Heart, who now faces the acid test of his capabilities in a red-hot running of the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
“He won a maiden hurdle and won it well, but this is the next level and it will tell us where we are,” continued O’Leary. “Hopefully he is lucky and we get to see where we are.”
There will not be an appearance from the exciting Gordon Elliott-trained bumper prospect Jalon D’oudairies, who seems destined to head straight for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, stablemate The Enabler looks a useful alternative for the Donohue Marquees Future Stars I.N.H. Flat Race following convincing victories at Punchestown and Navan.
The Cullentra House handler’s Conflated will again feature in the Irish Gold Cup, as he bids to get his own ticket to Prestbury Park stamped in a race he caused an 18-1 shock two years ago.
“Conflated is entitled to go there again and after this he will be going to either the Ryanair or the Cross Country at Cheltenham,” added O’Leary. “Hopefully he puts up a good showing.”