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Leopardstown G1 previews

There's top class racing at Leopardstown in Ireland today with soft going all round. The Lexus Chase has received all the attention with several potential Gold Cup horses in contention, but the Grade 1 Novice Chase is a quality contest too.

With the previews, it's aspiring commentator Will Bowler, @willbowler2k12. You can read more of his excellent writing on his blog.

TOPAZ NOVICE CHASE (2.25 Leopardstown):

Back in Focus is a high class horse in heavy ground, and the ground is soft here, but may not as bad as he would like. He does jump well and if he gets an easy lead, he will be hard to catch.

Dedigout is a high class horse who only found the bold front runner Arvika Ligeonneire too good. The form has since been franked, and has a big chance here under the Irish Champion Davy Russell.

Of the others, I like the each way chances of both Aupcharlie and Jenari. The former is ridden by the excellent Andrew Lynch, and has been crying out for three miles. He is a huge horse, who goes well in this ground, and looks a good, solid each way play at 9/1. Jenari is the choice of Tony McCoy, and again, a step up to three miles could help too. He is a Grade 2 novice hurdle winner and could run a place at around 25/1.

LEXUS CHASE (3.00 Leopardstown):

The Lexus Chase looks like the most useful trial for the Gold Cup this season above any of the previous four or five renewals, with Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs both figuring near the top of both markets. Flemenstar is a horse I love to pieces, and he jumps as well as any top class horse I can remember, with the exception of Kauto Star. The big question is will he stay three miles, and for me there is only one answer, yes! Three miles two around Cheltenham is a question for another time, but he is definitely the one to beat.

Sir Des Champs was well beaten by Flemenstar at Punchestown on seasonal debut, and has work to do with that rival here off the same terms. He will however have come on plenty for the run that day, and will be closer, but I don't think he will turn it around.

Hidden Cyclone is closely matched with Sir Des Champs from a one and a quarter length defeat in January. That was one of his two career defeats, 9-11 the overall record. He will stay, but may be better at two and a half miles. Although he has the lowest rating in the race and is the apple of his trainers eye, he has an each way chance.

The alternative option is to look at one of the British raiders Tidal Bay. He is a brilliantly quirky, and had the speed to win an Arkle in his younger days. Since his move to Paul Nicholls, he has a new lease of life, and his run in the Hennessy was a belter off top weight. He is 11 though and younger legs may find him out.

Of the others, First Lieutenant could run well, as he jumps and stays really well. It is also great to see Pandorama back, the 2010 winner for Noel Meade. But it has to be Flemenstar for me, with Hidden Cyclone to chase him home.

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