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Ginger Joe - My 2024 Dublin Racing Festival Review

Publish Date: 14/02/2024
Fact checked by: James Leeland
Key Points
  • My Dublin Racing Festival review for 2024
  • An incredible weekend of Graded action
  • My top six performers with Cheltenham chances

Dublin Racing Festival – The top performers

Welcome to my Dublin Racing Festival review, where I’ll be discussing the six best performances of the weekend. I attended this year’s DRF in person for the first time, and boy did I enjoy the experience.

If you were able to watch last weekend’s DRF action, then you’ll already know that we were treated to some incredible Graded action and we saw all of the stars turn out for the big occasion.

With the Cheltenham Festival less than six weeks away, it’s a crucial time of the season and following the DRF, the Cheltenham ante post markets have certainly been shaken up now. So, let’s have a look at who really impressed me this weekend.

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Kargese - SP 7/2 - Spring Juvenile Hurdle Winner

The Spring Juvenile was absolutely fascinating to watch and I was seriously impressed by the winner, Kargese, who spearheaded a 1-2-3-4 for team Willie Mullins. I have been very keen on this mare for a while now and she travelled very well. It was seriously impressive to see her pull away from the boys in the field on her first start in Ireland.

In the past I’ve seen her pull hard the whole way round and run much too freely, but she left all of that behind her this time and travelled smoothly, before finding an unexpected turn of foot in the deep ground.

Cheltenham outlook

I don’t like backing mares against the geldings, but Kargese beat them all fair and square in Dublin and has put her name firmly in the Triumph Hurdle mix now. Incidentally, the 14/1 ante post bet I advised previously, is now as short as 5/1, so I’m not alone in seeing a mare that can go all the way.

Galopin Des Champs - SP 1/3 - Irish Gold Cup Winner

For me, Galopin Des Champs winning the Irish Gold Cup was the performance of the weekend for me, and he truly stamped his authority as the best Staying Chaser around. Fastorslow had did beat Galopin Des Champs once, but that was right at the end of a very long season.

Watching him here, Galopin Des Champs looked as good, if not better, than he did last season and he is going to be extremely hard to beat in March. Fastorslow made a brave challenge and was in striking distance for a short while, but when Paul Townend asked Galopin Des Champs to quicken, he certainly did it in style.

Cheltenham outlook

Fastorslow is clearly a very good horse himself, but when these two meet at Cheltenham over two furlongs further, I’m convinced that Galopin Des Champs will win by an even wider margin. He is going to take some stopping in the Gold Cup this year.

Jeroboam Machin - SP 12/1 - Future Stars Bumper Winner

Jeroboam Machin, who runs for Emmett Mullins, was mightily impressive when winning the Bumper on Day 1, and he certainly looks like he has a bright future ahead. All of his previous form had come on soft ground, so I fully expected him to handle the conditions, but the most impressive part of his performance was how quickly he put his rivals to bed turning for home.

You don’t see many horses, especially Bumper horses, that can show a turn of foot like he did on this ground – he absolutely bolted up and he took it all in his stride. The question for me I guess, is whether he can do the same on better ground.

Cheltenham outlook

Well, we didn’t know then, and we won’t find out for a while yet, as Jeroboam Machin unfortunately came out of the race with an injury, which has definitely ruled him out for Cheltenham and potentially longer. He’s still a very exciting prospect for next season regardless.

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Ballyburn – SP 10/11 - Derby Sale Novice Hurdle Winner

Ballyburn stamped his authority as the best two-mile Novice Hurdler when he pulled clear in the final stages to put seven lengths between himself and runner-up Slade Steel. Both horses travelled very comfortably the whole way round, but the sheer speed of Ballyburn was too much for Slade Steel to live with after the home turn.

What I like about Ballyburn this year is that he has taken a step forward each run and now looks much more mature in his running style. In fact, he hasn’t looked back since he was beaten by Gordon Elliott’s Firefox on his seasonal debut.

Cheltenham outlook

The question now, is where does Ballyburn run at the Cheltenham Festival? He could stay at two miles, as he has plenty of speed to go with his stamina, but he could be even better suited to the intermediate trip too. Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, he is the one to beat whichever race he ends up in.

El Fabiolo - SP 4/11 - Dublin Chase Winner

The Dublin Chase was a fascinating contest to watch and many people thought that Dinoblue’s two-mile pace would cause El Fabiolo serious problems but this wasn’t to be. Dinoblue did manage to finish second, but she was eight lengths back from the impressive El Fabiolo, who looks like he has improved a ton from last season.

Cheltenham outlook

El Fabiolo looks bigger and stronger, plus he jumps with a bit more fluency now, and he is going to be extremely hard to beat in March, regardless of whether he runs in the Ryanair, or the Champion Chase.

Meanwhile, Dinoblue is definitely off to the Mares Chase and she looks the one to beat at this point in time.

State Man – SP 2/5 - Irish Champion Hurdle Winner

One of my favourite horses in training is State Man, he was absolutely brilliant in the Irish Champion Hurdle, solidifying his spot as the second-best two-mile Hurdler out there right now, behind the freak that is Constitution Hill.

Stablemate, Impaire Et Passe, set a good clip early on in the race, but before they turned for home, State Man had already made his move to a more prominent position and just pulled away up the straight making his rivals look rather ordinary. He is every owner’s dream horse.

Cheltenham outlook

State Man is a worthy contender for the Champion Hurdle in March and you just know he is going to run his race again. I could go on all day about him, but I’ll finish by saying that he travels like a really class horse, handles any ground, does everything well and is just brilliant to watch.

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