With several big names heading to Leopardstown this weekend, there is justified favouritism for some of the superstars entered into the key races.
But one important thing to always remember is that a horse doesn’t know what odds they are. Surprises are bound to happen, no matter how big a contest is.
Here are five betting outsiders that could perform at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Ganapathi (Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ’50k Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle)
A former French Bumper winner, Ganapathi joined Willie Mullins’ yard back in September and got off to a winning start over obstacles in a maiden hurdle at Cork in November. The five-year-old made his graded debut in January at Punchestown, producing a cracking performance to claim second behind Ronan McNally’s progressing Dreal Deal. The novice hurdler will be stepped up in trip, but Mullins believes that the distance will suit him. He has given signs that there is more to come and could produce another big effort here, with his 16/1 price tag making great each-way value.
Franco De Port (Irish Arkle Novice Chase)
Another representative of Willie Mullins, Franco De Port has impressed since being switched to fences this season. He won on his chase debut at Thurles, before landing a maiden Grade 1 success in the Racing Post Novice Chase, seeing off strong opposition in Darver Star and Felix Desjy who are also entered in the contest. He will be joined by talented stablemates Energumene (4/5) and Unexpected (9/2) and even though there are more expectations on the mentioned pair, Franco De Port could well have a big performance in him to trouble both of them. At 10/1, the six-year-old is a nice price for the threat he could pose to the odds-on favourite.
Abacadabras (Irish Champion Hurdle)
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up has been kept over the smaller obstacles this season, with Gordon Elliott making the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the clear aim for the seven-year-old. But first, he heads to Dublin in a tough renewal of the Irish Champion Hurdle, with the high-class talent of Honeysuckle (6/4) and Sharjah (2/1) heading the field at Leopardstown. A very smart hurdler on his own merit, Abacadabras saw off Saint Roi by a neck to land the Morgiana Hurdle in November. His poor show in the Matheson Hurdle can be chalked off after he was found to have a dirty scope and the seven-year-old is arguably one of the best in the current crop of Irish horses in the two-mile category. With his price at 9/1, he could well pull off a surprise in the contest.
Master McShee (Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle)
One of Timeform’s highest-rated novice hurdlers in Britain and Ireland, Master McShee has impressed over his three starts over obstacles. He raced a cracker on his hurdles debut, finishing second behind this contest’s favourite Appreciate It (46/). Paddy Corkery’s runner landed his first success two weeks later at Cork, before landing another impressive win in a Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. The seven-year-old has clear talent and could well give the big guns a run for their money with another promising performance. With a 11/1 price tag, he is showing some each-way value at least.
Andy Dufresne (Flogas Novice Chase)
Another Gordon Elliott runner that could pose a threat, Andy Dufresne has shown a significant level of promise this season. The seven-year old bolted up on his debut over fences at Wexford before putting in a career best effort to land the Klaron Davis Novice Chase at Navan in December. He is likely to improve more and this is his biggest challenge yet, taking on the likes of Monkfish (8/13) and Latest Exhibition (3/1) at Leopardstown. If Andy Dufresne can show further progress, then 12/1 is a very tempting price indeed.