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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

One trainer, one jockey, one horse and one race to watch this Saturday

Willie Mullins: season could be defined by what happens at Leopardstown
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One trainer . . . Willie Mullins

It's a huge day for Mullins at Leopardstown, where the perennial Irish champion trainer will saddle several horses who could define his season.

Most importantly his 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen bids to bounce back from his mystifying flop over Christmas when he lines up for the Irish Champion Hurdle (3.30) – in which his own stablemate Melon looks the main danger.

Earlier Mullins' hot Racing Post Arkle Chase favourite Footpad, who has looked so good in two outings over fences far, bids to make it three out of three in the Irish Arkle (2.20).

And the top-class Yorkhill, who's entered for three different races at Cheltenham and probably has the raw ability to win all of them, takes on top-drawer rival Min in the Dublin Chase (1.45).

One jockey . . . Bryony Frost

Bryony Frost: returning to the scene of her first winner under rules

It's a return to where it all started for the jockey who's been taking the jumps season by storm and won yet another big race on Frodon at Cheltenham last Saturday.

Three years ago this weekend she won her first race under rules when landing the hunter chase on Musselburgh's festival trials card as an amateur on Current Event for Rose Loxton.

Now a conditional jockey whose 5lb claim is highly sought after, she returns to Musselburgh to partner Amour de Nuit in the Scottish County Hurdle (2.05) and Marracudja in the Scottish Champion Chase (2.45) for her boss Paul Nicholls.

One horse . . . Buveur D'Air

Buveur D'Air: faces another small field at Sandown

It's not his fault that nobody wants to take him on – unless you blame him for being just too good.

Last year's Champion Hurdle winner, who faced four rivals in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and three in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, takes on just two opponents when he bids to complete a short odds hat-trick in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown (1.50).

But a class act is a joy to watch whatever the strength of the opposition so take the chance to marvel in his slick jumping and don't worry about the ridiculously short price he's likely to start at.

One race . . . Sandown 3.00

Melrose Boy and Kieron Edgar on the way to victory at Cheltenham

Prize-money for the Heroes Handicap Hurdle (3.00) has been doubled to £100,000 and that has drawn a highly competitive 18-runner field that includes no fewer than seven last-time-out winners.

Early ante-post favourite Westend Story misses out but there are plenty of other improving young hurdlers in the line-up, including Harry Fry's progressive novice Melrose Boy and Emma Lavelle's Flemcara, on whom Patrick Cowley is unbeaten in three rides.

And though it's the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival Gordon Elliott could not resist sending over Folsom Blue, who shaped last time at Navan as though he'd be suited by this step back up to three miles.

If you are interested in this, you might also like:

Cap'N team promise to keep no-hoper out of Buveur D'Air's way

Faugheen bids to show he's still a machine against seven in Irish Champion Hurdle

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Faugheen bids to bounce back from his mystifying flop over Christmas when he lines up for the Irish Champion Hurdle
E.W. Terms
Sky bet