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at the post Race-by-race guide and tips for Leopardstown Day Four


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Jockey Paul Townend. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Jockey Paul Townend. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Jockey Paul Townend. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Willie Mullins has monopolised the Grade One Matheson Hurdle (2.25) with seven winners over the last decade and the Closutton maestro possesses a star-studded trio of contenders once again in today's renewal.

JP McManus has farmed the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle with the last four winners racing in his green and gold silks - as well as a whopping nine in total - but the defeat of reigning champion Epatante earlier this week at Kempton could leave a gap in the market which Saint Roi will be hoping to fill for the Limerick owner.

Saint Roi - a ready winner of the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March for Mullins in what was Barry Geraghty's last winning ride before retiring from the saddle - is the likely favourite despite being turned over in a muddling Morgiana Hurdle last month where several things went wrong as Gordon Elliott's Abacadabras just held on by a neck.

They have an intriguing rematch here with Henry de Bromhead's Aspire Tower - a brilliant juvenile winner here 12 months ago - also thrown into the mix having proved much too good for Abacadabras when they collided in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal.

Mullins has huge strength in depth with Saldier returning to the race track for the first time since landing the 2019 Morgiana, although the lack of race fitness is a big worry despite the six-year-old's obvious class.

The forgotten horse seems to be Sharjah, though, as the seven-year-old is officially rated 5lb superior to his nearest rival and loves it around the Foxrock track as he eyes success in the €100,000 contest for the third successive season.

Patrick Mullins' mount - second in this year's Champion Hurdle - should be much shorter in the betting based on what he has achieved at the highest level and while he doesn't have the benefit of a recent run under his belt, he was kept busy on the Flat during the summer with two runs at Galway.

Should all go to plan, Mullins will wait from off the pace under a stalking ride before unleashing him at the final hurdle and he can complete the hat-trick in a top-class renewal.

Three big races come in quick succession with the red-hot Mullins likely to house the market leader in each as Albert Bartlett Hurdle winner Monkfish carries huge hopes in the Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Chase (1.50).

Monkfish, already the 3/1 favourite for the RSA Chase next March, could hardly have been any more impressive on his chasing debut when cantering home at Fairyhouse last month, but this will be a different type of test and his prohibitive odds don't do justice to the quality of the opposition.

Elliott has landed four of the last five renewals so Conflated commands huge respect having gotten off the mark over fences at the third time of asking in sensational style at Navan earlier this month, but this may go the way of Latest Exhibition with conditions sure to be perfectly in his favour.

Fresh from a Grade One success earlier this week, Bryan Cooper partners Paul Nolan's seven-year-old - a Grade One winner here over hurdles in February - as he bids to bounce back to winning ways having found only subsequent Grade One second Pencilfulloflead too good in a Punchestown Grade Two when performing well below par.

Stepping up to three miles should suit for his rematch against Monkfish with the pair producing a spectacular finish to the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham when Latest Exhibition came up just short by a neck, but he can turn the tables in the hands of Cooper with the benefit of an extra chase start over his chief rival.

Mullins has taken the last four renewals of the Grade Three Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle (1.15) and Concertista could go on to even bigger things despite having a Cheltenham Festival victory, as well as a second at the Festival the previous season, already to her name.

The way with which the six-year-old disposed of a classy sort like De Bromhead's Minella Melody in a Grade Two at Fairyhouse last month could hardly have been more impressive and the pair clash again with Concertista set to confirm that form with conditions in her favour.

Stablemate Buildmeupbuttercup has really gotten the hang of things over hurdles with a hat-trick of Listed wins and she can be on the scene again, but Concertista's biggest rival is likely to be Elliott's Black Tears.

Black Tears receives 8lb despite being just 2lb inferior on official ratings and with a win over Concertista from the Dublin Racing Festival last February, she can push her closest. However, it should be in vain with champion jockey Paul Townend (pictured far left) likely to continue his sparkling form over Christmas.

Elsewhere on a quality card for the final day of festive racing at the Foxrock track, the unexposed Visionarian is open to huge improvement on his fourth start and can take the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle (3.0) under Kevin Sexton.

Having easily landed a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park in October, Peter Fahey's charge was touched off in a Tipperary novice event over two miles and this step up to 2m4f should suit the five-year-old given that he has a point-to-point victory over three miles to his name when trained by Colin Bowe.

Things haven't exactly gone to plan for Elliott this week as Mullins dominated much of the Grade One action, but the Meath trainer can finish with flourish through Hollow Games - already as low as 14/1 for the Cheltenham Champion Bumper - in the concluding bumper (3.35).

Hollow Games comes here with a big reputation having landed his two career starts by a combined 37 lengths with his Turtulla point-to-point romp yielding £255,000 at the Cheltenham sales in March and the exciting four-year-old should oblige under Jamie Codd.

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