The second day of the Dublin Racing Festival takes place at Leopardstown on Sunday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway returns with his best bets.
The 2m Grade 1 novice hurdle (1.40) kicks off the action on Sunday and Ballyburn comes into the race with a big reputation. He will be hard to beat if he is as good as everyone says, but his form doesn’t have the substance you would expect for one who is such a short price.
It’s worth opposing him, and his stablemate ABSURDE appears to have been written off too quickly following a couple of disappointing efforts on his last two outings over hurdles.
Absurde was successful in a 2m4f novice hurdle at Killarney in May and has since improved significantly on the Flat, landing the Ebor at York before a seventh in the Melbourne Cup.
Intertwined between those runs are two hurdle defeats, one when 4-6 at Galway last summer and the other in a Grade 1 here at Christmas, but both are excused. He was too keen and nothing went right at Galway on the first occasion and the ground was awful here last time.
All of his best form on the Flat came on a better surface, so he had little chance of handling heavy conditions that day, and the prospect of a quicker surface here makes him interesting.
There are a lot of odds-on favourites at Leopardstown this weekend and it’s difficult to find reasons to oppose them. Two who come into that category are EL FABIOLO, who should land the Dublin Chase (2.10) and STATE MAN. He is a banker in the Irish Champion Hurdle (2.45).
El Fabiolo has been simply sensational since switching to chasing and comes here unbeaten in five over fences. His impressive victory in the Hilly Way at Cork last time was as good a performance as he has produced and he simply has a huge class edge over this opposition.
Put him in a double with State Man, who has won nine of his last 10 over hurdles and his only defeat came at the hands of the outstanding Champion Hurdle winner Constitution Hill.
State Man had four of these five rivals behind him when winning over course-and-distance over Christmas and it’s hard to believe any of those can reverse the form. The only serious danger is Bob Olinger, but he has never been one to rely on and State Man can see him off.
The 2m51/2f handicap chase (3.20) looks like a good opportunity for FAKIR D'OUDAIRIES to get himself back to winning ways now that he has dropped 6lb below his highest BHA rating.
He still has to carry top weight, but has a class edge now he is switched back to chasing and it’s only two runs since he finished a four-and-a-quarter-length second in a Grade 1 at Ascot.
A reproduction of that form would give him a huge chance and he shaped well on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham last month. He kept on in good fashion in the run-in under only hands and heels riding and wasn’t given a hard time once his chance had gone.
It’s anyone’s guess whether this has been the target, but connections could have put a claimer on board and instead they opt for the owner’s retained jockey Mark Walsh. That looks like a hint.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.