Despite the bad news that the Leopardstown Christmas Festival will now take place with a reduced crowd after coronavirus restrictions were tightened in Ireland following the discovery of the Omicron variant, the spectacular meeting still has a lot of promise and having a limited number of racegoers is always better than a behind closed doors event like what we saw in Dublin last year.
With seven Grade 1 races spread over the four-day Festival, which will run from 26th-29th December, there is plenty to get excited about and most of Ireland’s best horses will be using the Christmas Festival’s top races in their final preparations prior to the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in March.
The top-grade Savills Chase on the penultimate day of the meeting is often littered with potential Gold Cup entries. In fact, several horses have gone on to win the Cheltenham showpiece after winning this race in Ireland — including the legendary Best Mate, Bobs Worth and Denman.
So, with that in mind, we have scoured the best horse race betting sites and put together this list of star-studded favourites for the Savills Chase. Read on to find out more!
A Plus Tard
Tipped to win the Gold Cup at the 2021 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival, mainly due to Rachael Blackmore’s and Henry de Bromhead’s incredible form at Prestbury Park, A Plus Tard could fare no better than second as he was pipped over the line by Minella Indo— who we will get to later. The seven-year-old, who won this race by half a length last year, kicked off this season with a 22-length victory in the Grade 1 Lancashire Chase at Haydock and is expected to defend his title this year. It will be no easy feat given that it looks like the race will have a very tough card, but a second successive win would surely make A Plus Tard the outright favourite for Gold Cup success.
Al Boum Photo
Despite being the favourite ahead of the Gold Cup back in March, there was a real sense that Al Boum Photo only topped the ante-post market on the basis that he had won the last two renewals of the showpiece race rather than anything else. That theory was perhaps proven when the Willie Mullins-trained horse finished in third and almost sixlengths off the pace of Minella Indo. Ending the season with a second-place finish behind Clan DesObeauxin the Punchestown Gold Cup, many would argue that Al Boum Photo is past his peak. This is a great chance for the nine-year-old to prove his doubters wrong, but A Plus Tard does have two years on the two-time Gold Cup winner and that could prove decisive.
Mentioned a few times already, let’s get onto the curious case of Minella Indo. The eight-year-old caused a major upset in the Gold Cup last year when young Jack Kennedy rode the De Bromhead-trained horse to glory in what was supposed to be a two-horse race between Al Boum Photo and A Plus Tard. He started this season with a third-place finish in the Champion Chase, lagging behind Frodonand Galvin at Down Royal with Blackmore in the saddle. With the Grand National winner likely to take the A Plus Tard ride, Kennedy could take the reins for this race and it will be interesting to see if he can work his magic again.