Kemboy is set to defend his crown in the Savills Chase on day three of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
The Willie Mullins trained horse finished last season as the highest-rated horse in training after his Punchestown win. However, doubts were cast over his campaign this term after issues about his ownership led to HRI suspending Supreme Horseracing from making entries.
That has since been resolved and now the star chaser can get the first leg of a potential Gold Cup campaign underway at Leopardstown.
Kemboy tops the 25-strong entry and could well come up against last year’s second and third, Monalee, trained by Henry De Bromhead and Noel Meade’s Road To Respect winner of the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal. Mullins’ Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo holds an entry as does Joseph O'Brien’s Darasso, the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly, Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work and the Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy.
Honeysuckle - she is a special mare!
🏇🏻 6 races
🥇 6 wins
🏆 Dual G1 winning hurdler
👸 A winning machine@rachaelblackmor & the @HenrydeBromhead-trained Honeysuckle run out easy winners of the G1 @BarOneRacing.com Hatton's Grace Hurdle @Fairyhouse pic.twitter.com/sOlX4jcGd8
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 1, 2019
There are high-quality entries across all four days of the Leopardstown festival where several rivalries that were established at Fairyhouse over the weekend could be revisited. Honeysuckle, winner of the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at the weekend holds entries over two miles and three miles, as does Apple's Jade.
Should Honeysuckle drop down in trip she could face superstar novice Envoi Allen, also a Grade One winner at the weekend having won the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. The step up to open company was certainly not dismissed by connections in the wake of Envoi Allen's breathtaking win on Sunday.
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) December 1, 2019
The Paddy's Rewards Club Chase on day two could see Chacun Pour Soi continue his winning run. The French-bred is one of eight Willie Mullins entries at this stage. Others include Min, Cilaos Emery, Footpad, and the evergreen Un De Sceaux.
There are seven Grade One contests in all over the four days of the Leopardstown Christmas festival and the races are packed with early promise. Two notable absentees are Douvan and Saldier from the Willie Mullins yard. Mullins later confirmed Saldier has met with a slight setback ruling him out until the new year.
Douvan recently bounced back to form after a near two-year absence from the track while Saldier was impressive in lowering the colours of stablemate Klassical Dream in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown recently. It will be intriguing where the pair go next.
Adding to the Christmas cheer is the quality of entries at Limerick's festival. The Grade One Matchbook Novice Chase is their feature race of the week and with Allaho, Batteloverdoyen, Carefully Selected, Faugheen, Melon, Samcro, Salsaretta, Laurina, Ronald Pump and impressive Drinmore winner Fakir D'oudairies among the early acceptors.
Speaking at the launch of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, trainer Joseph O'Brien said: “The Leopardstown Christmas Festival is a highlight of the National Hunt racing calendar, it is a target for many of our horses and we look forward to supporting it”