Leopardstown is set for a fantastic day of racing on Saturday with the Deloitte Novice Hurdle being one of the feature races on their card. A Grade 1 contest, the Deloitte Novice Hurdle is run over 2 miles and 2 furlongs with a total of nine hurdles jumped. The race is a stepping stone for novice horses en-route to the Supreme Novices and the Neptune Novices at the Cheltenham Festival in March with a number of winners of the Deloitte going on to win at the Festival, such as Istabraq, Brave Inca and Vautour.
Irish trainer Willie Mullins has dominated the race in recent years, winning the last three renewals and he looks set to be well represented in Saturday’s race, with five of his horses currently entered to run. Bellshill is one of these entries and is the current ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race. A winner of all three of his races so far this season, Bellshill is a worthy favourite as he looks to go into the Cheltenham Festival unbeaten over obstacles. Bloodless victories at Cork, Navan and Naas sees Bellshill very much the horse to beat in Saturday’s race despite dropping back in trip. Mullins may also be represented by Yorkhill, also owned by Graham Wylie. Like his stablemate, Yorkhill is also unbeaten over hurdles this season, winning both his races so far comfortably. Victory at Sandown in his last race was particularly pleasing, seeing off the highly thought off O O Seven by over two lengths. Mullins may also saddle Petit Mouchoir who has an impressive winner at Thurles before placing third in the Grade 1 Future Novice Champions Hurdle at Leopards town. Staying on well that day under a strong Jaques Ricou ride, the step up in distance in Saturday’s race will likely suit.
The main threat to a Willie Mullins trained winner is likely to come from the Gordon Elliott trained and Gigginstown owned Tombstone. Two bumper victories at Naas and Down Royal were then followed up with an impressive maiden victory over hurdles at Fairyhouse where he beat the odds-on Pylonthepressure by four lengths. He then went to Leopardstown at Christmas for the Grade 1 Future Novice Champions Hurdle where he ran second to the Willie Mullins trained Long Dog, with Petit Mouchoir in third. Staying on well in that race, the step back up to 2 miles and 2 furlongs on Saturday should suit perfectly and he looks set to run a big race
Bellshill is the current ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race at 2.75 (7/4) with Yorkhill available at 4 (3/1). Tombstone is currently 3.25 (9/4) and Petit Mouchoir is 8 (7/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown is Tombstone at 3.25 (9/4).
By: Scott McGlynn