Who To Follow At Leopardstown On Wednesday

Leopardstown - December 29 2021
Leopardstown 14:20
Mr P W Mullins


Mr P W Mullins
W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-12
OR: 164
Days: 45

Sharjah absolutely loves the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle, winning the races last three renewals and he heads to Leopardstown again to retain his crown and win it for a record fourth time in a row.

He clearly thrives at this time of year and in this race especially, saving his best form for the Christmas 2-mile feature, beating Klassical Dream in 2019, Samcro in 2018 and Saint Roi in last years renewal, winning the three races by a combined 9 lengths.

Willie Mullins has his horses flying like always (16 winners in his last 41 runners, 39% strike rate in the last 14 days) and Patrick Mullins keeps the ride on him, which is great news as Patrick has ridden the horse to victory in his last three Matheson Hurdle wins.

Sharjah was a winner last time out on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, beating two younger prospects in fine style.

He looks the one to beat in this as he bids to win the race for a fourth time in a row.


Trainer To Follow - Gavin Cromwell

Gavin Cromwell has a few nice horses this season, with last season’s Stayer’s Hurdle winner Flooring Porter running in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle on the 28th, The team have been ticking along nicely with their top horses starting to run to form now.

They have six runners at Leopardstown tomorrow with the main one being Vanillier running in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase over 3 miles.

Vanillier was the 2021 Albert Bartlett heroine for Gavin at the festival in March and looks to be a great staying chaser in the making, he was third on chasing debut in October with the form being franked as Beacon Edge who was just 3 lengths in front crossing the line has won a Grade 1 since, and Vanillier has also won a graded race since, winning the Florida Pearl Novice Chase unchallenged by 26 lengths.

That was over 2m6f and the step up to 3 mile today will suit even better, making him the one to beat in the first Grade 1 of the day.

Jockey To Follow - Neil Ryan

A young apprentice jockey who can ride both flat and jumps horses who is in flying form at present, Neil Ryan is predominantly riding for Noel Meade over the jumps at the moment and is fresh off his first career double for Noel on Boxing Day.

A very strong claimer who already rides like a seasoned professional, has ridden 3 winners in just 4 rides making it a 75% strike rate over the last 14 days. Neil is a jockey to keep a very close eye on going and plenty of rides will start to come his way when trainers realise his potential.

He has two rides at Leopardstown on the 29th with Paddy Wickla looking to have a strong chance, after a decent 2nd place finish in a similarly competitive affair at Punchestown at the start of the month, after running on well and stepping up in trip today to suit.

He is the current bottom weight and Neil’s 7lb claim will do wonders in helping the horse in this.

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing