The inaugural Dublin Racing Festival takes place at Leopardstown this weekend with many of Ireland’s finest competing for some magnificent prizes across the two-day meeting.
Many of these horses are being supplied by trainer Henry de Bromhead, who is enjoying another excellent season and has several big chances of further success.
We spoke to De Bromhead about his weekend runners and also got an update on leading Cheltenham Festival contender Balko Des Flos.
We are all looking forward to the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend. What do you think of the idea?
I think it’s a great concept and I hope it’s well supported. It seems to have been by the trainers and the owners, so it’s an exciting weekend ahead and I hope our horses can perform to their best over the two days.
Dicey O’Reilly runs in the opening Grade 1 at Leopardstown on Saturday (1.10). What is the thinking behind keeping conditional rider Dylan Robinson on board?
Dylan normally claims 5lb, but he won on the horse at Leopardstown over Christmas and works hard with us at home. The owners were happy to give him the opportunity on the horse again as they got on so well together last time.
You run three in the Dublin Chase (1.45) – Special Tiara, Alisier D’Irlande and Ordinary World. Which do you fancy the most?
They’re all in good form and I’m hoping they all run well. Special Tiara is rated the highest of the three and would have the strongest chance, as long as the ground is good enough.
Petit Mouchoir returns to action in the Arkle (2.20). How do you think he will get on against Footpad?
He seems in great form. He had a setback after he won his novice chase so this is his first run since October. We couldn’t be happier with him, although you’d imagine he’d come on for the run a little. You have to take on the likes of Footpad if you want to win the biggest race, and we were lucky enough to beat him a couple of times over hurdles. This is different and he has been hugely impressive, but we’ll give it all we can.
Identity Thief runs for the first time this season in the Irish Champion Hurdle (3.30). What should we expect from him?
He seems really well in himself. He lost his way over fences a bit last season, but having said that even when he went back over hurdles he was still disappointing. So we’re on a real recovery mission with him, but he worked really well the other day. If we can get him back to or near his best form he’d be in there with an outside shout.
You’ve opted for the Coral Hurdle (4.05) over the Deloitte Novice Hurdle for Mind’s Eye. What is the thinking behind that?
He’s rated 133 so off that mark it makes sense to go for a handicap rather than a graded race right now. We do think he’s a smart horse, that’s why he was entered in a Grade 1 this weekend. So given our thinking on that, you’d hope he’d be well capable of winning this off his rating.
Talking of Sunday’s Deloitte, what do you make of your runners Paloma Blue and Train Wreck?
Paloma Blue and Train Wreck run for us and they’re going to the race in top order. It’s a tough ask for them both, but I hope they can give a good account of themselves.
Monalee is a horse a lot of people are excited about. Can he bounce back from his fall when he runs in Sunday’s Flogas Novice Chase (3.00)?
We’re looking forward to him running again. He took a crashing fall over Christmas, so we’re hoping he can bounce back and show on the course what he’s been showing us at home. He seems really well, but it was a very disappointing fall the last day. He’s schooled very well and home so we hope that’s behind him now.
And, finally, can we grab a quick update on Irish Gold Cup contender Valseur Lido and your other smart staying chaser Balko Des Flos?
Valseur Lido’s in great order and seems to have come forward for his run at Christmas. Balko Des Flos has produced his best performances on better ground, and he was busy up until Christmas, so we’re waiting for the spring festivals with him. Looking at Cheltenham, he’s entered in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup. He’s only a seven-year-old so whether the Gold Cup may come a bit soon, I’m not entirely sure. I need to discuss it with the owners and then make a decision, but he’s a lovely horse to look forward to.