Hindsight is wonderful. Hypothetical hindsight is probably pointless but now that the Christmas tree is down and it’s no longer acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast I’ve been wondering how I would have fared had I been working in Leopardstown for the 4 days of the Christmas festival. I tell anyone that asks me ‘would results have been good if I was standing at the races today?’ that I don’t know, but it’s a lie, I always know!

The grade 1 races would possibly have went as follows:

Day 1:

Racing Post Novice Chase would have been a result from heaven. Felix Desjy a 15/8 fav was short for what he had achieved over the large obstacle’s. Blackbow , who couldn’t win a maiden hurdle was second fav. It’s a race I would have loved to kick on with and once Blackbow bit the dust early and Jonathan Moore decided to go chasing the fav from very early on Darver Star I thought to myself these guys are going way too fast there could be a shock result here. Bryan Cooper sat out the back on Franco De Port and swooped late. A very clever ride. Some might say it’s easy to do on an outsider, ride to run well and hope for the best but I think the man on board the winner deserves plenty of credit on this occasion. I’m sure a few of the others would love a second chance of riding the race again. It would have been a proper start to the week for the layers. I also would have had great fun with a racing regular Paul Mc Gahon affectionately known as ‘Magoo’ to all who know him. He is Darver stars biggest fan and travels everywhere to see the horse. Darver has given Magoo and the local lads from Co.Louth some great days out and memories of a lifetime. Telling Magoo Darver Star couldn’t beat a Willie Mullins after thought would get some reaction!!!

On Stephens Day I always stick up 2 away races on my boards and we bet on them on each of our 3 pitches. The Grade 1 Novice chase in Limerick and the King George in Kempton generate plenty of interest. The Limerick grade 1 is a race I actually have a big problem with. It’s a race that shouldn’t be on the calendar. Asterion Forlonge who’s best career performance was at Leopardstown over 2 miles on yielding ground at the Dublin racing festival earlier in 2020, where he annihilated Easywork and Mt Leinster was sent to Limerick to run over 2 and a half miles on heavy ground. The general reason given is he needs to go right handed or he needs further but I’d imagine the real reason he went is because the yard had other runners for the Leopardstown race. I would do the very same if I was Willie Mullins. As it happens he won both races anyway but there should be one good grade 1 novice chase over Christmas and all the top horses should be forced to take each other on. There should be no soft grade 1 races.  The culture of avoidance that the race programme encourages has got to be changed. It’s in everyone’s interest. There’s a 3 mile g1 novice chase later in the week if you feel 2 miles is too short. Asterion Forlonge who went off at 4/6 fell early and the race was won by stablemate Colreevy at 5/1 (a grade 1 winner over 2 miles previously!) was a big race success for jockey Danny Mullins.  There would have been a few 500 to win 400 and 600 to win 400 about for Asterion. I’d imagine we would have knicked a couple of grand out of it. It’s the type of result that puts a smile on our right hand man Declans face!

The King George may not have been as appealing without any Irish runners for my audience but never the less the turn over on it would be okay. Frodon , often underrated, got a freebie up front and once he gets in a rhythm he’s not easy to beat. I think it’s a race that would have left a few quid in the bag but Irish race goers are a clever lot. They wouldn’t be quick to plough into a field of inconsistent dodge pots like the ones that ran in this years King George.

The drive home on day 1 would have been enjoyable. Its always nice to get off to a good start.

Day 2:

2 mile Chase. Chacun Pour Soi was awesome when bolting in at 4/7. Notebook finishing second would have doubled the blow. The places often add insult to injury. No debates or hard luck stories. Chacun is different league to the rest of these.

2 mile novice hurdle. Appreciate it bolts in at 7/4. The rest nowhere. This guy will take some stopping in Cheltenham.

I would have been licking my wounds after that day, make no mistake about it.

Day 3:

After a tricky day 2 I’d be in for an early catch up with my colleagues. Colm White is my neighbour in Leopardstown. I have a pitch either side of him infront of the grandstand. Colm is like being a full forward when your being marked by a good full back, you know your in for a battle but you respect him! He runs a good show, if he’s short with a horses price I always take note of it, likewise when he is a big price with a favourite, when he backs a horse with me I always respect his money. The craic and chats we have are something I miss and his employee Marty Mc Crudden is a character of the ring. Two gents that I look forward to meeting again at some stage later in the year. Paul Corrigan who works with Daragh Fitzpatrick, Denis Dempsey who works with Frank Snell and Willie Kelly who is Pat O Hares right hand man are others who will often have a word or two of wisdom. Three shrewd judges that fly under the radar….!

Jonathan Moore may not have impressed on Darver Star but he was excellent on Flooring Porter in the 3 mile hurdle to cause a shock. Fury Road beaten at 13/8 on the busiest day of the week is a result that wets the lips. You don’t get cold hands counting and bailing the cash after a result like that.

The Savills chase was the race of the week, possibly of the year. A line up to dream about and a thrilling finish the race deserved. A Plus Tard getting up on the line wouldn’t have been a super result but we may have snuck a few quid out of the race. Kemboy and Melon would have had plenty of each way support. The roar of the crowd would have been an experience in itself.  What a horse race.

Day 3 over I think we would come out ahead but wouldn’t have made enough inroads on the previous days damage for my liking.

Day 4:

Monkfish winning at 1/2 would have hurt me more than most. I thought he was very short and would have been very happy to stand him for plenty. I’d have been proven wrong on the day. I’m not sold on those novices. Fury Road ran poorly in the staying hurdle, latest exhibition has ran poorly in Punchestown this year already. Im not convinced by last years Albert Bartlett race. It wont be the first or last time I’ll be wrong if they go on to be gold cup horses but I’d have my doubts. That’s what this game is all about, opinions!

Sharjah winning the 2mile race was my tip of the week! For once I tipped a winner! Patrick Mullins and Sharjah are made for each other. It’s not often the winner of a grade one hurdle can be called a mile from home but it was the case here. Sharjah is a top class 2 mile hurdler that I think will win this years champion hurdle. Epatante has questions to answer now. An honourable mention must go to Petit Mouchoir who ran an absolute blinder. He dances every dance and deserves another big day in the sun. Saint Roi will win no champion Hurdle and I’m not sure he’ll ever go off 13/8 fav in a g1 again.

So after 4 days I’m not sure I’d be any richer or poorer, 4 long days in what looked like atrocious weather conditions for nothing may not sound like a great business plan to the vast majority or the accountant but I’d have given my right arm to be there.