Kemboy all set to defend Leopardstown crown

Presenting Percy and Road To Respect also in nine-strong field.

  • Friday 27 December
  • News
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Kemboy is set to face eight rivals when he defends his crown in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old caused a minor upset when breaking his Grade One duck with a wide-margin success in Saturday’s race 12 months ago.

He then made it no further than the first fence in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but bounced back with a brilliant display at Aintree before beating his Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo in a memorable Punchestown Gold Cup which marked the retirement of Ruby Walsh.

Kemboy’s return to action has been delayed following the disqualification of the Supreme Horse Racing Club – but a new syndicate has been formed, and he will be a hot favourite to make a successful comeback.

Mullins also saddles Bellshill, fourth behind Kemboy in last year’s Savills Chase and in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

“Kemboy and Bellshill are both in good form and ready to run,” said the Closutton handler.

“Kemboy will probably like the prevailing ground conditions, because I don’t think there is any more rain forecast. Looking at the times of the races, it is probably better than described.

“Bellshill likes this track, and I just hope it doesn’t dry out too much for him.”

Presenting Percy is a major contender for Pat Kelly and Davy Russell.

The eight-year-old lined up for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase with plenty to prove earlier this month, having disappointed when favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup off the back of a solitary run over hurdles last season.

However, he showed his considerable talent remains very much intact with a fine effort to finish third behind last year’s winner Min – and owner Philip Reynolds is looking forward to seeing him return to the more suitable distance of three miles at Leopardstown.

Reynolds said: “It’s a big day, but these are the days you want to be involved in.

“It’s a good race with quality all the way through it – you wouldn’t expect anything less.

“Percy is ready to go – he’s had a run, and we think he has come on since Punchestown.

“I think we’ll learn a lot. A few bubbles got burst in the King George, and I just hope mine doesn’t get burst on Saturday!

“We’re expecting a good show, and I’ll be disappointed if he’s not there or thereabouts.”

The Noel Meade-trained Road To Respect claimed this prize two years ago, and finished a luckless third 12 months ago after stumbling at a crucial stage.

He made an excellent start to the new campaign when winning the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal for the second year in succession – beating Thursday’s King George hero Clan Des Obeaux – and Meade is optimistic about his chances this weekend.

He said: “He’s in great form, and we’re very happy with him going into the race.

“He’s done everything we’ve wanted him to do since Down Royal, and the ground should suit him.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

Road To Respect is one of three runners for Gigginstown House Stud, along with Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work and Balko Des Flos from Henry de Bromhead’s yard.

De Bromhead also saddles last year’s runner-up Monalee, while Tony Martin’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly and Jessica Harrington’s Jett complete a stellar field.

Apple’s Jade bids to win the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle for the third year in succession.

Elliott’s brilliant mare has not run up to her best in two starts so far this season – most recently finishing third when bidding for a fourth win in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse – and is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.

“Apple’s Jade has cheekpieces on and has definitely improved in her work, but I wouldn’t just say she is where she was,” said Elliott.

“She had a day hunting and is in good form.”

Mullins is represented by Hatton’s Grace second Bacardys, the fourth Killultagh Vic and the sixth Penhill.

A seven-strong field is completed by Arkwrisht, Dommage Pour Toi and Harry Fry’s British raider Unowhatimeanharry.

The latter was last seen finishing fourth behind star stayer Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury – and won a Grade One at the Punchestown Festival on his latest visit to Ireland.

Fry said: “He enjoys his trips to Ireland and he seems in good form.

“He owes us nothing at this stage and he’s there to take his chance, and we’re looking forward to running him.

“It looks an open race, and we’ll give it our best shot.”

Kemboy all set to defend Leopardstown crown

Leopardstown 15:10, 28 December 2019

Finished 4 of 8 @ 7/4

soon led and a little keen, not fluent 1st and 2nd, headed 3rd, prominent, not fluent 9th, pushed along approaching straight, challenged from before last, kept on without matching principals closing stages

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Leopardstown 15:10, 28 December 2019

Leopardstown 15:10, 28 December 2019

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