Everyone connected with this meeting from breeders to owners, trainers to jockeys and of course us punters, are looking for that one last betting opportunity before we say goodbye to hopefully the one and only behind-closed-doors Festival.
The Martin Pipe is the traditional closer and these are our top six for the last race of 2021:
Joseph O’Brien’s runner has gone up against some of the best in his short hurdle career so far including Appreciate It, though to be fair he has been beaten out of sight.
He improved in his Listed race last time, again in defeat though, and it seems that while conditions should be fine and he is on the improve, his handicap mark may just hold him back from the Cheltenham enclosure this time.
Well beaten last time at the Dublin Racing Festival, Gabynako’s key piece of form was in January when he ran a very creditable third behind Bob Olinger and Blue Lord.
Having seen the levels that both of those horses have reached this week, albeit in the latter horse’s case having fallen when booked for second behind Appreciate It in the Supreme, we can take an educated guess at Gabynako’s own true level now and that gives him a big shout in this.
Should he improve at the same rate as his two old rivals then his handicap mark of 138 is short of where he’s really at, though it’s not guaranteed after last time that he will hit those heights and so at the odds enthusiasm is tempered slightly.
Galopin Des Champs
Representing Willie Mullins and having only his fifth career start over hurdles, there is every chance that we’ll see a career peak now from Galopin Des Champs.
Another who has form with Appreciate It, this horse was beaten just 9¼ lengths by the superstar at Leopardstown but has been handicapped appropriately and runs off a high mark of 140 in this race.
If he takes a step forward, he is certainly in there with a shout, Sean O’Keeffe being the jockey entrusted with guiding him home.
Gentleman De Mee
On the form book, we can’t really give too enthusiastic a shout to this horse, but there is more than meets the eye.
Gentleman De Mee, trained by Willie Mullins, has only won a maiden and in easy style and is having only his fourth hurdle run.
He is owned by JP McManus who, like the trainer, knows what is required around here and so if significant money comes for this chap in the moments before the race that is something we’ll all have to sit up and take notice of.
This is the horse going for a big money bonus. Langer Dan, trained by Dan Skelton, was a very taking winner of the Imperial Cup last Saturday and it’s clearly felt that he is right enough in himself to be able to take his chance.
Despite that race cutting up and only producing a field of nine in the end, it was noticeable how well Langer Dan travelled and the way in which he skipped clear of the field in the closing stages was very impressive indeed.
Naturally he carries a penalty here, but that on it’s own is definitely not enough to stop him going in again so as long as he’s 100% in terms of fitness, then he may prove to be very hard to stop in these race conditions.
David Pipe trains Leoncavallo in a race named after his legendary father, and he is not without a chance at a very nice price.
That price is based around the horse having already had 21 hurdle races and so it’s felt we already know what we need to about his chances, but we must keep in mind that he will very likely have been trained specifically with this race in mind.
He’s been a little underwhelming in a couple of Cheltenham Festival races, which is a worry, but his form level overall entitles him to be considered for this and it may be that the extra half-mile brings about some belated improvement.
Another big betting race then and one that’s tough for us to carve up, but in LANGER DAN there is one outstanding candidate who couldn’t have done more in the Imperial Cup to prove his wellbeing and his ability.
At the weights he’d be the rightful strong favourite and he is taken to get the job done, with Gabynako and Leoncavallo next on the list.