Dublin Racing Festival preview - Day 1: Fastorslow goes for Gold Cup glory
- Leopardstown hosts day one of the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday
- Storm Heart in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle
- Il Etait Temps each-way in the Irish Arkle
- Fastorslow in the Irish Gold Cup
It is the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this Saturday as the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival in March really starts to heat up.
The Irish Gold Cup, the Irish Arkle and the Spring Juvenile Hurdle are among four Grade 1s on a stellar card and we have provided a best bet for each of those races.
1.50 Leopardstown - Spring Juvenile Hurdle
This is often seen as the race that sorts out the betting for the Triumph Hurdle in March. Both Vauban and Quilixious have won this Grade 1 in recent years, before going on to follow up at Cheltenham the following month.
Storm Heart put in a hugely impressive performance on Irish debut when winning a juvenile maiden hurdle at Punchestown by 22 lengths on New Year's Eve under Paul Townend.
Trainer Willie Mullins stated after the race that he was not fully fit on the day and if that is the case, he really could be special.
Eagles Reign, who was back in a remote third, has since gone on to win a Punchestown handicap to give the form some real substance.
Given that was Storm Heart's first run for Mullins in testing conditions, he should improve again.
2.25 Leopardstown - Irish Arkle
Barry Connell's Marine Nationale bids to keep his unbeaten run intact in the Irish Arkle on Saturday and he is a very short price to do so.
Last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner won on chasing debut over course and distance in December and it will take a good one to beat him.
It is a big ask for anything in opposition to get the better of Marine Nationale, but Il Etait Temps looks overpriced and could chase him home.
The six-year-old produced a career-best when bolting up in the Grade 1 novice hurdle at this festival last season and Willie Mullins has always felt he would make a better chaser.
There was no disgrace in getting turned over by Gaelic Warrior at Limerick over Christmas and he might be a tad underestimated.
3.35 Leopardstown - Irish Gold Cup
Only four runners participate in this year's renewal of the Irish Gold Cup, but it is still a quality race.
Last year's winner Galopin Des Champs bids to defend his title, but can he get the better of Martin Brassil's improving chaser Fastorslow?
Last season's Irish and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs bounced back to his very best when romping home in the Savills Chase over track and trip at Christmas.
The ground was extremely testing though and Fastorslow comes in here very fresh.
Martin Brassil's eight-year-old has also beaten the odds-on favourite the last two times they have met and neither of those victories were a fluke.