Dublin Festival Day 2: Honeysuckle can return to winning form

February 3rd, 2023

Day 2 of the Dublin Festival at Leopardstown features another four Grade 1 races.

We will focus on the big race of the day, the Irish Champion Hurdle, and offer spot plays for the other Grade 1 events.

Race 5, 10:10 a.m. ET: Irish Champion Hurdle (G1), 2 miles, open hurdle

Irish Champion Hurdle Selections

  • #6 Honeysuckle
  • #2 State Man
  • #4 Vauban

Irish Champion Hurdle Wagers

The best hurdle race in some years in Europe, even without English sensation Constitution Hill here. A year ago nobody could see #6 Honeysuckle ever being beaten over hurdles, and she scored her 14th win from as many starts over sticks when scoring in this race. She took out her next two as well, the Champion Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham for the second time, and the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

However, she was beaten at Fairyhouse Dec. 4, finishing third to Teahupoo, and she’s now facing two rising stars here from the Willie Mullins stable: #2 State Man and #4 Vauban. State Man looked outstanding when beating Vauban in the Matheson Hurdle (G1) at Leopardstown Dec. 29, and he’s the market leader for this race.

Despite her defeat, I’m backing Honeysuckle here. She was on heavy ground at 2 7/16 miles when she was beaten, and she should relish the return to two miles here. I think she could be at great value for a horse with her record.

Race 2, 8:40 a.m. ET: Novice Chase (G1), 2 5/8 miles, novice steeplechasers

It’s hard to go past #6 Mighty Potter after two outstanding wins here. #2 Gaillard Du Mesnil, #4 James Du Berlais, and #5 Kilcruit look the best of the others.

  • $20 win: #6 Mighty Potter
  • $2 exacta: 6 with 2, 4, 5

Race 3, 9:10 a.m. ET: Dublin Chase (G1), 2 1/8 miles, open steeplechasers

With leading Irish 2-mile chaser Energumene missing, the money is likely to be on #1 Blue Lord, but I’m going to look for odds and take the British runner #5 Sceau Royal, who showed very good form over fences last season.

  • $20 win: #5 Sceau Royal

Race 6, 10:40 a.m. ET: Ireland Novice Hurdle (G1), 2 miles, novice hurdlers

Is #2 Facile Vega as good as the odds suggest he is? Quite possibly — he hasn’t really been tested over hurdles yet. But he hasn’t faced a field this good either.

I’m going for a speculative go on #3 High Definition, a former Group 1 placegetter on the flat for Aidan O’Brien who is now trained by his son Joseph. He won well on his hurdling debut and is worth a try at odds.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #3 High Definition