Impressive on his fencing bow at Punchestown, Mengli Khan looks the horse to beat in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase, feature of Leopardstown’s St Stephen’s Day card.
Gordon Elliott’s charge, successful as a two-year-old for Hugo Palmer, enjoyed a successful campaign over hurdles last season, winning the Royal Bond (Grade 1) at Fairyhouse and finishing a creditable third behind Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov in the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham.
And he looked a natural when making his debut over the bigger obstacles at Punchestown four weeks ago when, jumping solidly, although a little sloppy at the final fence, he cruised home a 10 lengths winner from smart mare Forge Meadow which, admittedly, has since been well beaten in a Grade 3 in Cork.
Mengli Khan, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, will be ridden again by Davy Russell, and should take plenty of beating here as he bids to boost his Arkle credentials, for both Leopardstown in February and Cheltenham in March.
The Willie Mullins-trained Voix Du Reve has also taken well to fences, scoring at Galway and in a Grade 2 at Punchestown (beating Hardline readily) and looks a threat, along with Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg, another dual-winner over fences and taking a significant drop in trip having been outstayed by Delta Work in the Grade 1 Drinmore at Fairyhouse last time.
The earlier Grade 2 Frank Knight Juvenile Hurdle involves a rematch between stable-companions Chief Justice and Coeur Sublime, separated by a short-head in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse less than four weeks ago.
Chief Justice, already a four-time winner over flights, was conceding 7lb on that occasion and is 4lb better off this time. But I fancy Coeur Sublime to turn the tables as he was having only his third lifetime start at Fairyhouse, will be suited by a stronger pace and is open to plenty of improvement.
The field also includes interesting French recruits Coko Beach (Gordon Elliott) and La Sorelita (Willie Mullins). But I’ll stick with Coeur Sublime.
Peter O’Hehir’s tips for Leopardstown
1.45.Share The Honour (Nap)