Arkle Novices’ Chase: Marine Nationale odds on for Cheltenham after flawless chase debut | Racing News

Marine Nationale maintained his unbeaten record with a near foot-perfect display on his debut over fences at Leopardstown.

Owned and trained by Barry Connell, the six-year-old won each of his two bumper starts and was three from three over hurdles last season, culminating in a brilliant victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Encountering larger obstacles for the first time, having sidestepped a potential engagement at Navan last month on account of testing conditions, Marine Nationale was a 1-2 shot for the Paddy Power From The Horses Mouth Podcast Beginners Chase and those who took the cramped odds will have had few concerns for the duration of the two-mile-one-furlong contest.

Michael O’Sullivan’s mount raced zestfully on the front end from the drop of the flag and was particularly impressive in the jumping department.

The market leader was still hard on the bridle turning for home and another bold leap at the final obstacle put the seal on a comfortable eight-and-a-half-length victory over Firm Footings.

“I didn’t enjoy watching it at all. Last year we were coming in under the radar and this year we are favourite for the Arkle and expected to win,” said Connell.

Michael O'Sullivan and Marine Nationale after winning the Bar One Novice Hurdle
Michael O’Sullivan and Marine Nationale after winning the Bar One Novice Hurdle

“It’s a horse race and anything can go wrong, but the way he jumped today he’s vindicated what we have seen from his schooling – he’s an absolute natural.

“He’s only three-quarters fit today and Michael said he gave a little bit of a blow. He was a little gassy early on, but you couldn’t ask for any more than that.

“The ground is described as soft, but there is a bottom to it. He goes on every ground, but probably wouldn’t like heavy ground. He’s just class with a super engine.”

Dinoblue powers to Paddy Power victory

Dinoblue led home a one-two-three for trainer Willie Mullins and owner JP McManus in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown.

A field of five runners went to post for the Grade One contest, with Henry de Bromhead’s 6-4 favourite Captain Guinness the only outlier in an otherwise Closutton dominated line-up.

It was clear from a long way out that it was going to be a clean sweep for the champion trainer, with the market leader never able to get to grips with a strong pace and eventually pulled up by Rachael Blackmore in the back straight.

Gentleman De Mee was deployed in a front-running role, but he was a sitting duck at the top of the home straight, as stablemate Dinoblue moved into his slipstream under a motionless Mark Walsh.

Dinoblue and Mark Walsh win at Leopardstown
Dinoblue and Mark Walsh win at Leopardstown

Once given her head, the 9-4 shot soon pulled away and safely negotiated the final fence to score by seven and a half lengths.

Saint Roi was third, with the other Mullins runner Dysart Dynamo falling at the last.

“Gentleman De Mee set a great pace in front and jumped fantastic. I wondered at one stage would she (Dinoblue) be able to stay jumping with him but she held her jumping together,” said the trainer.

“When he took a blow, she kept galloping and she is improving all the time. I’m very happy with that.”

Caldwell Potter a Future Champion in the making

Caldwell Potter dented some lofty reputations with victory in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The Grade One contest has been won by a whole host of top-class performers in recent years, with Sizing John (2014), Appreciate It (2020) and Caldwell Potter’s ill-fated sibling Mighty Potter (2021) among those on the roll of honour.

Another quality renewal was in prospect, with Daddy Long Legs, fellow Willie Mullins representative Predators Gold and Gordon Elliott’s Down Memory Lane all protecting unbeaten records, but it was the latter trainer’s apparent second string who claimed top honours under Jack Kennedy.

A 6-1 shot following a comfortable victory at Navan on his most recent outing, Caldwell Potter took over from long-time leader Westport Cove leaving the back straight, with the supposed bigger guns waiting in the wings.

However, Predators Gold was the only horse able to go with Elliott’s grey turning for home and with a bad mistake at the final flight ultimately ending his challenge, Caldwell Potter was well on top as he passed the post with six and a half lengths in hand.

Down Memory Lane was a long way back in third, with Daddy Long Legs disappointingly pulled up.

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