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Stars to shine at Leopardstown

Stars to shine at Leopardstown

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The big freeze has played havoc with jumps racing this week but the weekend promises a return, with a feast of Grade 1 races in Britain and Ireland to savour. Let’s hope we have found some winners to start February!

Apple’s Jade and Min both to win @ 47/20

There’s high-quality action at Leopardstown over the weekend, with the Dublin Racing Festival staged on Saturday and Sunday. Day one has three Grade 1 contests and the horses at the front of the market can strike.

Apple’s Jade will bid for her 10th career Grade 1 in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The mare has carried all before her this season, with three wins in emphatic fashion, and the only question against her name is dropping back to two miles.

At seven, she looks better than ever and Apple’s Jade can take care of Supasundae and Melon to land the prize.

Later on, Min defends his crown in the Dublin Chase. He scored by a wide margin last season, defeating Simply Ned, and should have measure of that rival again now.

His main foe may be another British raider in Saint Calvados, but the front runner won’t have an easy time of things here and, in any case, faces one of the leading two-milers around over an ideal trip (2m1f), with Min favoured to defend his crown.

Mitchouka – 2.00 Leopardstown @ 40/1

Gordon Elliott’s five-year-old runs in the Gigginstown silks and was a progressive novice over timber last season, winning a graded contest at Fairyhouse over 2m on soft going in this month before finding the spring festivals too hot for his liking.

This term, he went off novice chasing and while without a win in five, he certainly started to get the hang of things in decent efforts behind the likes of Getabird and Paloma Blue.

A mark of 137 back over timber is far from excessive and his place hopes are done no harm by Kevin Brogan’s 7lb claim in the saddle. This race is very competitive but Mitchouka looks a shade over-priced at current odds.

Praeceps – 12.40 Sandown @ 9/2

Sandown is on course to beat the frost and it appears Buveur D’air only has to turn up and stay on his feet to win the Contenders Hurdle.

The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase looks a cracking contest but is hard from a betting standpoint and so in the opening race Praeceps gets the nod.

A three-time winner on the Flat for Sir Mark Prescott, he’s now with Alan King for his jumping career and made a solid start at Newbury last month when second (clear) behind a rival with experience.

He should improve and is getting plenty of weight from likely favourite Winston C here, ensuring the son of Canford Cliffs should be very competitive if he adds to his debut showing.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.