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A Recap of the Big Winners From the Leopardstown Christmas Festival

The Leopardstown Christmas Festival is a massive hit with the people of Ireland over the festive period, and with last year’s meeting held behind closed doors, there was plenty of excitement around Dublin for this year’s event — with Leopardstown due to welcome around 6,000 racegoers on each of the exciting four days of racing.

However, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the difficult decision was made to once again hold the festival without spectators, as Leopardstown organisers made the announcement on Christmas Eve — just two days before the meeting was due to take place.

While that certainly took some of the gloss off the Christmas Festival, there was still plenty of top-class action over the course of the four days, with several horses fancied in the Cheltenham horse racing odds taking to the track in a bid to prepare for the Prestbury Park festival in March. 

That said, let’s take a look at some of the big winners from the Leopardstown Christmas Festival — and there are a few upsets along the way! Read on to find out more.

Racing Post Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – Ferny Hollow

The highlight of Boxing Day’s card, there were certainly no surprises in the Grade 1 Novices’ Chase as odds-on favourite Ferny Hallow came home in first for the fantastic trainer/jockey duo of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. Champion Bumper winner in 2020, the six-year-old made all the running, and despite being pressed hard by Riviere D’etel on the run for home, Ferny Hallow held on to win by a length and a half. Now unbeaten in five races, the Mullins-trained horse could be well worth backing each way at odds of around 14/1 for the Champion Hurdle in the Cheltenham 2022 cheat sheets

Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase (Grade 1) – Envoi Allen

The first of two Grade 1 races on day two of the Festival, Envoi Allen got back on track with a comfortable victory in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase after a surprising sixth-place finish in the Punchestown Chase earlier in the month. Up against just Battleoverdoyen and Sizing Porter, who unseated his rider two out, it wasn’t the best run from the Henry de Bromhead-trained horse, but Rachael Blackmore drove him clear on the run-in to win by over seven lengths — perhaps somewhat papering over the cracks of a sub-par outing. 

5/2 shot Mighty Porter won the proceeding Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Hurdle, while 12/1 outsider School Boy Hours won the Paddy Power Chase — an extended Handicap Chase.

Savills Chase (Grade 1) – Galvin

Klassical Dream scooped the prestigious Christmas Hurdle in the first Grade 1 race of day four, solidifying his place as the ante-post favourite for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. However, we’re going to focus of the penultimate day’s feature — the Savills Chase. With several Gold Cup hopefuls going hoof-to-hoof, this was the perfect chance for A Plus Tard to prove why he is already the outright favourite for the Festival showpiece. However, Gordon Elliott’s Galvin snuck in late to take the lead in the final strides and win by a length clear of the De Bromhead-trained seven-year-old. A Plus Tard is still the ante-post favourite to win the Gold Cup, but he will have to deal with the challenge of Galvin better at Prestbury Park. 

Matheson Hurdle – Sharjah 

Onto the final day now, and after 7/1 chance Fury Road beat his stablemate and race favourite Run Wild Fred to the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase by some eight lengths, it was time for the final top-level race of the meeting — the Matheson Hurdle. There were no major shocks to round off the four-day festival as odds-on favourite Sharjah, who was held up and short of room for much of the race, pipped Zanahiyr over the line by a neck right at the death. Another contender for the Champion Hurdle, the two-mile, half-a-furlong race is shaping up to be a real cracker at the Cheltenham Festival.