Ireland’s inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown has lost one of its big names with the decision for Road To Respect to skip Sunday’s Unibet Irish Gold Cup.
The Noel Meade-trained winner of the Christmas Chase at the meeting last month will head straight to the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.
It is felt conditions will be too testing for him on Sunday.
Road To Respect will skip Sunday’s Unibet Irish Gold Cup and head straight to Cheltenham
‘He’ll go straight to Cheltenham,’ said Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud.
‘He’s grand, but the ground will be too soft for him. If it happened to come up the same as at Christmas he’d have run, but it won’t.’
Despite Road To Respect’s withdrawal, Gigginstown still had three entries – Alpha Des Obeaux, Outlander and Valseur Lido – among 10 left in the three-mile Grade One contest.
‘I don’t know about Alpha Des Obeaux, but the other two will hopefully run,’ said O’Leary.
Ireland’s inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown has lost one of its big names
Willie Mullins has two entries Djakadam and Killultagh Vic. The former will be trying to bounce back from a below par run in the Christmas Chase when pulled up.
Last year’s Irish Gold Cup winner Sizing John is absent – he is also waiting for Cheltenham – but his trainer Jessica Harrington still has Our Duke in the field.
The 2017 Irish Grand National hero is another on a retrieval mission, having flopped in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on his seasonal return.
He has since had an operation to sort out a problem with his back.
The sole British raider is Jonjo O’Neill’s Minella Rocco, who was runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season.
It is felt conditions will be too testing for Noel Meade’s Road To Respect on Sunday