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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Gavin Quinn

Dublin Racing Festival: Ruby Walsh previews the big races this weekend

Ruby Walsh reckons Honeysuckle is the clear favourite for this weekend's Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore headline an All-Star Dublin Racing Festival cast and are expected to be back in the winners enclosure after Sunday's feature race.

Elsewhere, there's plenty for punters to look forward to on Saturday between an exciting Irish Arkle as well as the Irish Gold Cup.

Here's what Ruby Walsh had to say about some of the big races this weekend at a Racing TV Dublin Racing Festival Preview press conference:

The Patrick Ward & Company Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase of €150,000 (Grade 1)

Willie Mullins (©INPHO/Bryan Keane)

I suppose no Ferny Hollow here is a bit of a blow, obviously to Wille (Mullins') chances anyway.

I know Riviere D'Etel doesn't have the same allowance that she had, (she) will have to improve that little bit. There was a lot to like about her effort behind Ferny Hollow in the Novice Chase at Christmas.

They went hammer and tongs from the word go and she matched him and jumped with him all the way, the last was bypassed and she only went down by a length and a half.

Blue Lord has been very good, he beat Lifetime Ambition at Naas after beating El Barra at Fairyhouse - he was going to be second at last year's supreme and fell at the last.

He's a good jumper but we'll learn a hell of a lot more here as to which of Willie's horses (Blue Lord and Saint Sam) may be able to step into Ferny Hollow's shoes.

But again, Gordon (Elliott) has a big runner in Riviere D'Etel.

The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup of €250,000 (Grade 1)

Frodon ridden by jockey Bryony Frost after they won the Ladbrokes Champion Chase on October 30, 2021 (PA)

It's going to be interesting, I think it's a race that will really suit Frodon, I was talking to Paul Nicholls yesterday and he's always felt Frodon could be slightly better going left handed than right.

Kemboy has a terrific record at the track even though his jumping can be a little in and out.

I overlooked Minella Indo after this race last yearand that proved me wrong because he was brilliant in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so I think Henry de Bromhead and Barry Maloney will be looking for encouraging signs that mightn't necessarily mean winning.

I think if he can run a decent race and run into the money, they'll be fancying their chances going to Cheltenham in March.

Whereas Frodon and Kemboy, who have poorer records at Cheltenham, will be looking at Saturday as their D-Day.

The Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle of €200,000 (Grade 1)

Rachael Blackmore onboard Honeysuckle (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

I don't know if Appreciate It is going to run, but he's the only real horse that can add spice to this race.

That's wrong - because I think Zanahiyr is improving and may well get closer to Honeysuckle in six weeks time again - but I'd be surprised if he's improved quite enough to catch up with her yet.

Appreciate It, he was brilliant last year at Cheltenham. He's been rock solid since Ferny Hollow beat him in the bumper at Cheltenham.

But Honeysuckle, she just seems to be on a different graph from everyone else.

She's an amazing mare - unbeaten - she's so simple. Rachael (Blackmore) can ride her handy and wide, she's a good jumper, she stays well, she doesn't lack pace if they go hard early.

She does what really great horses do, even when she's slightly under-par, she still manages to win.

Racing TV is the home of British and Irish racing showing every race live from 61 racecourses and will have complete coverage of the Dublin Racing Festival. You can join Racing TV for their best ever price of just €12 per month for an entire year this weekend only at

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