Horse Racing: Harrington’s smart Duke the one to take on Bellshill


RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from a busy Sunday at Leopardstown.

14:30 Leopardstown | At The Races

The Spring Hurdle is the big juvenile hurdle of the season so far and this looks a fantastic renewal and it's bound to be very informative for the Spring meetings. Mullins, Elliott and O'Brien send multiple entries and a lot of these hold chances.

Joseph O'Brien sends three JP McManus owned geldings in to this and according to jockey bookings Housesofparliment is the first choice. This Group winning flat horse is a high class recruit from his dad's string and was placed in a St Leger at one point. He ran ok on debut but has to improve a lot for that and is passed over.

Sword Fighter is another high class Flat recruit for the yard but he looked all at sea on his debut over hurdles and looks like he may need time. Bhutan won his only career start in a flat maiden and is an interesting runner. He will need to be really smart to win this, and in a hot renewal he is passed over but I will be keeping a close eye on him.

Gordon Elliott sends two and Mega Fortune has the best form in the book so far. He stays well and will enjoy the ground but he's finished behind one of these twice already and is most likely a place contender at best.

Dinaria Des Obeaux was a mightily impressive winner of a maiden and she's a hugely exciting young filly. That wasn't the strongest of races and this will be a huge step up, however she is very interesting here.

Bapaume was beaten by Landofhopeandglory on his Irish debut for Willie Mullins but turned that form round last time out and he deserves to be favourite here. He is open to further improvement but may struggle against his stablemate here.

Meri Devi wasn't as classy as the McManus owned horses on the Flat however she is a good recruit and has proven form on soft and heavy ground. She got the better of Housesofparliment on debut and looked like she had plenty left in the tank that day. I expect her to run a big race here and she may well enjoy the conditions more than some of her rivals too.

15:30 Leopardstown | At The Races

The Flogas Novice Chase over a distance just short of 2 miles 6 furlongs is a strong looking race and three of these have won Grade 1 races in the past. Though it's a good field I feel it's worth concentrating on the ones at the head of the market.

Disko is the apple of Noel Meade's eye and ran a much more promising race last time out. He seemed to run out of stamina that day and this shorter trip looks ideal, however consistency isn't his forte and he is not one for maximum faith yet.

Bleu Et Rouge is another who isn't one for maximum faith either however it's worth noting that last time out he was backed off the boards in the Irish Arkle before unseasting Barry Geraghty at the third. He has real potential but even at a big price he is too much of a risk for me.

Bellshill is a prolific winner and is the current favourite for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He's won both of his starts over fences in good style and stays well, however for some reason I don't like him. He's flopped twice at Cheltenham before and despite scoring at the highest level I think he's short in the betting here.

The one I really like here is the Jessica Harrington trained Our Duke. A decent novice hurdler he has taken his form to a new level over jumps winning a Grade 1 on just his second start over fences. He stays well and has a willing attitude, and despite dropping back in trip I think these attributes will make him hard to beat here.

Best Bets

14:30 Leopardstown – Meri Devi to win (7/2 Bet365)

15:30 Leopardstown – Our Duke to win (7/2 BetVictor)

About Author

I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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