Minella Indo tops 20 possibles for next week’s Savills Chase, the feature event on the penultimate day of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge has impressed with two comfortable victories so far this term, after having victory in last season’s RSA Chase at Cheltenham snatched away in the shadow of the post by the flying finish of Champ.
Minella Indo heads the ante-post markets for next week’s three-mile contest, in which De Bromhead has also confirmed King George VI Chase possible Monalee – along with A Plus Tard, who could step back up in trip, and Balko Des Flos.
Gordon Elliott has a strong potential hand with his six-strong team currently including Presenting Percy, The Storyteller, Samcro and defending champion Delta Work.
Kemboy showed some of his old sparkle when second to Presenting Percy at Thurles on his return – and trainer Willie Mullins is another with multiple options, and has Allaho and Melon among his six entries.
Elliott has given The Storyteller an alternative over the smaller obstacles in the other Grade One on the card, the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle, with Sire Du Berlais and Fury Road other eye-catching possibles for him.
Mullins is well represented again, with last year’s fourth Barcardys in his trio, while Olly Murphy’s British raider Thomas Darby also features among 13 entries.
The final day of the fixture has two Grade One contests, with Mullins’ Saint Roi headlining eight contenders for the Matheson Hurdle.
Last year’s victor Sharjah and Grade One winner Saldier strengthen the Closutton trainer’s team – but Elliott’s Abacadabras is the main challenger, having edged out Saint Roi by a neck in the Morgiana last time.
A top-class field is in prospect for the Neville Hotels Novices Chase, with Mullins’ Monkfish bidding for Grade One honours after an impressive fencing bow.
He renews rivalry with Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition, whom he just beat in last term’s Albert Barlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Elliott’s Pencilfulloflead is another name of note among 10 in contention.
Clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer reports the ground on the hurdles track for the final two days of the meeting to be on the softer side – but there is a possibility of watering on the chase course, with a dry forecast in prospect.
He said: “The wooden stick is only a guide, as much as a going description is only an opinion.
“What we can tell you is there is plenty of juice in the track right now.
“The chase track is good to yielding, the hurdle track for days one and two is mainly yielding, a little bit slower in places – yielding, yielding to soft in places.
“The hurdle track is on the inner lines for days three and four – and it’s more in the yielding to soft side, slower ground on the inside lines.”
That is not the case at present on parts of the chase track, however.
“There’s a bit of light rain this morning (Monday) and 10 millimetres in recent days,” Wyer added.
“The forecast in the immediate future is generally dry, a little showery, but generally dry.
“On that basis we are monitoring the situation regarding any watering on the chase track. If any watering is needed, it will be mainly from the winning post round to the three-mile start, just beyond the 10-furlong starting area.
“We’re considering options in that regard, but we’re happy where we are at this stage.”