Fans of high class jumps racing are certainly spoilt this weekend, as the quality action rolls on into Sunday with Day 2 of the new Dublin Racing Festival. Much like Day 1, this looks set to be a real cracker with some top class runner competing.

The highlight of the day is of course the big race of this meeting; The Irish Gold Cup. In what is looking a wide open year, will anything make a statement ahead of the Cheltenham equivalent in March? Here we pick out our best bets for the feature event and the seven supporting contests on what is a very high quality card.

12:40pm – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) – 2m2f

Ellie Mac each way at 8/1 with Betfair

Contingency looks the obvious one for Willie Mullins here, being unbeaten in her two starts for the trainer to date. She’s pretty short in the betting though in a field packed with likely contenders and we prefer an each way punt.

Henry De Bromhead’s Ellie Mac looked clueless on her first two starts over hurdles, despite starting as a well-supported favourite on debut, but produced an extremely impressive display last time out at this track. Sent off as a 50/1 shot that day, she took everyone – her trainer included – by surprise, in showing an impressive turn of foot to win going away, leaving a field of 23 trailing in her wake. The ability to quicken as she did is a potent weapon in any sphere, and she looks worth supporting now that the penny seems to have dropped.

1:15pm – Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m

Espoir D’Allen to win at 6/4 with Coral

Two hugely promising novice hurdlers butt heads in our next contest as Stormy Ireland takes on Espoir D’Allen. The Willie Mullins-trained Stormy Ireland didn’t quite manage to win a race when trained in France, but produced a pretty jaw-dropping performance on her debut for the yard at Fairyhouse in Decemeber. It really was a case of Stormy Ireland first, the rest nowhere that day, as the filly cruised home 58 lengths clear of the field. She really could be anything at this stage.

It is Espoir D’Allen who looks the more solid option though. Unbeaten in five starts under rules to date, the son of Voix Du Nord has taken each successive step up the ladder in his stride to date, with his latest outing resulting in an easy success at Grade 2 level last time out. Already prominent in the Triumph Hurdle market, we see the Gavin Cromwell runner rubberstamping his credentials and taking this.

1:50pm – Deloitte Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m

Samcro to win at 4/7 with Betfair

We are eager to see how the Rich Ricci-owned Sharjah gets on here following his fall in a chaotic contest at this track last time out. Two from two prior to that mishap, he travelled into that contest like a really good horse and was cantering all over stablemate Real Steel only for the pair to come down at the final flight.

It is Samcro who appears to be the one they all have to beat though. We haven’t heard trainer Gordon Elliott be quite so bullish about a horse since Don Cossack, and we all know what that one ended up doing. A Gold Cup win is a long way off yet for Samcro, but he has looked pretty special in winning each of his five starts under rules to date, more often than not in effortless style. Cruising to a 12 length victory in a Grade 3 contest last time out, it looks only a matter of time until he starts adding Grade 1 victories to his CV. We can’t oppose him here.

2:25pm – William Fry Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) – 3m

Total Recall to win at 6/4 with Ladbrokes

Willie Mullins looks to have an outstanding chance of landing this competitive handicap with his Ladbrokes Trophy winner, Total Recall. Having taken that Newbury chase contest off a mark of 147, he looks absolutely thrown in off 126 stepping back down to the smaller obstacles here. It may be that he is simply much better over fences, but the suspicion is he has basically come on leaps and bounds since making the switch to the Mullins yard in the autumn. He will start favourite here, but deserves to.

3:00pm – Flogas Novice Chase (Grade 1) – 2m5f

Sutton Place to win at 9/4 with Coral

There is much to like about the Henry De Bromhead runner, Monalee, who finished a fine third to Penhill in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle last season. Looking incredibly slick for a novice on his chase debut when winning at Punchestown two starts back, he again jumped well in the main last time at this track, only to take a crashing fall at the 10th. There is always a danger that a fall like that can leave a mark coming so early in a chasers career, and as such we will take him on here.

If peak hurdles ratings are taken as a barometer, the Gordon Elliott-trained Sutton Place may just about have Monalee’s measure in any case. Since being beaten on debut at Navan, this JP McManus runner has racked up an impressive sequence of six wins from seven starts, with the only defeat coming when being pulled up lame at the Punchestown Festival. Looking a little too much of a novice at times on his chase debut last time, he can surely only improve in that regard and undoubtedly possesses the engine to play a major roll. We see him coming out on top in this one.

3:35pm – Unibet Irish Gold Cup (Grade 1) – 3m

Outlander each wat at 7/1 with BetVictor

Next up, the feature race of the meeting. Won last year by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup king, Sizing John, it is once again a Jessica Harrington-trained runner who leads the way this year. Our Duke certainly looked impressive when running right away with the Irish Grand National last season, but was woefully disappointing on his comeback at Down Royal in November. With this being his first run since, he has had plenty of time to return to form, but looks opposable at the prices. Killultagh Vic and Anibale Fly are interesting runners, but we will stick with one more proven in this type of race.

You never know quite what you are going to get with Outlander, with the Gordon Elliott runner prone to throwing in the odd shocking display. He does however like it at this track. Five starts at Leopardstown have yielded four wins, including two at Grade 1 level. His latest effort came when third in the Christmas Chase here where he only went down by three and a half lengths to Road To Respect. He may even have finished closer that day but for twice being impeded and he looks the each way call here.

4:10pm – Chanelle Pharma Handicap Chase (Grade A) – 2m5f

Gwencily Berbas each way at 20/1 with Coral

This looks typically competitive, but the one who it could be worth chancing is the Alan Fleming runner, Gwencily Berbas. Twice a graded winner over hurdles, rising to a mark of 15 1engths over the smaller obstacles, he may well prove to be well in off 133. He didn’t run too badly over a trip too short behind Demi Sang last time out, and should be better over this distance. His two chase starts at 2m4f+ in his career to date have resulted in a win and a second to the talented Our Duke.

4:40pm – Coolmore N.H. Sires Irish EBF I.N.H Flat Race (Grade 2) – 2m

Tintangle each way

A tough mares’ bumper to round off the day’s action. We haven’t been massively struck by the form of those to have run so far, including last time out winners Colreevy and Relegate. As such we will be taking a chance on the Gordon Elliott-trained newcomer, Tintangle. This daughter of Yeats is a half-sister to the yard’s Graded winner Tombstone, making her an appealing prospect on paper, and hailing from such a powerful yard, it would be no surprise were she to prove good enough on the day.