Irish Arkle: Leopardstown’s star novice clash off as Gaelic Warrior not declared to face Marine Nationale | Racing News

Willie Mullins has decided to skip a clash against Marine Nationale with Gaelic Warrior in Saturday’s Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Positive noises had been made that the exciting Gaelic Warrior would drop down to two miles to take on Barry Connell’s unbeaten Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner.

However, Mullins will instead field Facile Vega, Il Etait Temps and Sharjah in opposition. Two others will go to post, Gordon Elliott’s promising Found A Fifty and Vincent Halley’s Senecia.

Gaelic Warrior and Patrick Mullins win the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Steeplechase
Gaelic Warrior and Patrick Mullins win the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Steeplechase

Mullins’ Galopin Des Champs will only face three in his attempt to win the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup for a second successive year.

He bounced back to form to win at Christmas and will meet his Punchestown Festival and John Durkan conqueror Fastorslow. The only two other runners are Conflated and I Am Maximus.

Galopin Des Champs wins at Leopardstown under Paul Townend
Galopin Des Champs wins at Leopardstown under Paul Townend

Also appearing on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival is A Dream To Share, one of the feelgood stories of last season as he went through his campaign unbeaten, culminating with champion bumper wins at Cheltenham and Punchestown.

He had been favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for months but a setback delayed his hurdling career and he will remain in the bumper sphere for now.

A Dream To Share will be attempting to win the Donohue Marquees Future Stars Flat Race for a second successive year. Mullins runs My Great Mate, You Oughta Know, Hens Tooth, Joystick and Redemption Day against him.

A Dream To Share wins the Champion Bumper for John Gleeson
A Dream To Share won the Champion Bumper for John Gleeson

The champion trainer has four of the six in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle over two miles and six furlongs.

Dancing City, I Will Be Baie, Loughglynn and Predators Gold will face Elliott’s Stellar Story and Jessica Harrington’s Jetara. Mullins also fields six of the 11 in the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

Bunting, Ethical Diamond, Highwind, Majborough, Storm Heart and Kargese will face the most competition from Elliott’s Kala Conti.

‘Two days of pure, hardcore racing!’

The Closutton maestro is a big fan of the Dublin Racing Festival, stating: “It’s one of the best initiatives to come from HRI in the past few years – it’s two days of pure, hardcore racing.

“Grade Ones – bang, bang, bang, one after the other. I don’t think there’s any other festival in the British Isles or France that has high-calibre horses in so few races, where you can see them all and it gives you an idea what’s best and what’s looking good for the other spring festivals.

“This is one of the best two days in Irish jump racing and probably English jump racing or French jump racing – it’s a fantastic festival.

Willie Mullins' runners dominate the card at Leopardstown
Willie Mullins’ runners look set to go well at Leopardstown

“When you have a good horse, you have to run in good races and I’m a believer in that, you put them in and they have to take their chance.

“Some of them seem obvious that they’re going to win but then we get surprises every day of the week, that’s why bookmakers are so successful!

“Our opinions aren’t always right, we all have opinions; from the punter, to the trainer, to the owner. You’ve got to get out there on the track and prove which is the best horse.”