Leopardstown, Musselburgh & Sandown Tips for 3rd February 2024

Results for Leopardstown, Musselburgh & Sandown Tips for 3rd February 2024

The tote reaches out across the British Isles for this Saturday’s Scoop6 conundrum, with England, Scotland, and Ireland coming together to create the jackpot puzzle. The classiest action comes from the Dublin Racing Festival, with the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle kicking off the bet. Elsewhere, we have a double bill from one of the biggest days of the year at Musselburgh, headlined by the staying showpiece of the Edinburgh National Handicap Chase. Make it as far as leg five, and two competitive handicaps from Sandown are all that stand between you and the big money.

As ever, we pick out our best bet in each of the six legs in this week’s Scoop6 Racing Tips.

1:50 McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle

Grade 1, 2m

Storm Heart

A field of hugely promising four-year-olds set the ball rolling in a race won by talents such as Footpad and Vauban in recent years. The fact that Willie Mullins has claimed five of the past nine editions of this will catch the eye of trend fans, but doesn’t help much this year, with the Closutton maestro being responsible for six of the 11-runner field, including the top three in the betting market.

Of the Mullins sextet, Highwind (10/1), Bunting (10/1), and Majborough (11/2) are hard to dismiss, having each won last time out. The last-named appears the most interesting on his yard debut, having scored for Daniela Mele on his only start in France. The fillies Kargese (6/1) and Kala Conti (7/1), from the Gordon Elliott operation, are tough to split, having been separated by under a length over this course and distance in December, whilst Joseph O’Brien’s Intellotto (17/2) looked a horse to follow on his hurdling bow at the Christmas meeting here.

There are plenty of chances, but overall, we fancy the market has this right in rating Storm Heart as the one they all have to beat. The choice of Paul Townend won on the flat in France and took to hurdles like a duck to water at Punchestown. Mullins seemed surprised by that 22-length rout, suggesting in the aftermath that he expected the horse to improve considerably. If that proves to be the case, he may prove very tough to stop.

2:15 bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m7½f

Inis Oirr

We move across to Scotland for leg 2, and a completely different test to the speedy two miles at Leopardstown. Stamina is the order of the day in this marathon affair, as 12 contenders set out in pursuit of Edinburgh National glory. Given the unique demands of the race, defending champion Magna Sam (13/2) automatically makes it onto the shortlist. Only four pounds higher than 12 months ago and having blown away the cobwebs with a recent spin at this track, he shouldn’t be far away.

Irish raider Peaches And Cream (5/1) currently heads the betting for the excellent Gavin Cromwell, having demonstrated a liking for this sort of test when scoring over just shy of this trip at Punchestown in April 2022. He hasn’t been so good since, but was better than his finishing position of fifth at Cheltenham last time out and rates a threat to all. Of those available at bigger prices, Christopher Wood (12/1) is beginning to look well handicapped off 129.

Overall, the one for us is course winner Inis Oirr (13/2) from the Lucinda Russel operation. This horse has long looked to be crying out for an extreme test of stamina and was again notably staying on well over 3m3½f when fifth in the Lincolnshire National last time out. A mark of 119 is no gimme but is three pounds below his career high, and the first-time visor goes on ahead of what is likely his big target for the season.

2:50 bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 1m7½f


Always a man to fear on a Saturday (or any other day), Paul Nicholls has won two of the past six editions of this competitive hurdle. The multiple Champion Trainer looks to have solid claims of improving that record in 2024, with his five-year-old course and distance winner, Alfadil (13/2) amongst the most fancied contenders. Runner up over 2m4f here last time out, he has been eased a pound in the handicap, and the drop back in trip ought to be in his favour with the excellent Freddie Gingell in the saddle.

The Nicky Richards representative Parisencore (15/2) is another to note, having finished second in the 2023 edition, but this can go to the top weight and current favourite, Benson (9/2). Boasting a perfect two from two record at Musselburgh, he was the horse to finish ahead of Alfadil last time. Likely to get on with things from the front, his ability to stay further may make him hard to reel in once again. He’s up three pounds in the handicap, but that is more than offset by the seven-pound claim of Lewis Dobb, who takes over from Ryan Mania in the saddle. He can hand Sandy Thompson a big race success.

3:00 Race And Stay At Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle

Listed, 3m½f

Fine Margin

Just the 24 runners to get through in a typically wide-open Leopardstown Handicap, with all of the big guns from the Irish training scene represented. Canal End (6/1) catches the eye in the green and gold of JP McManus, having finished a solid third in a Listed event last time out, whilst course and distance winner Panda Boy (7/1) bounced back from a spell in the doldrums when running on late for second here in December. A mark of 134 looks well within reach if he can build on that.

Henry De Bromhead’s Music Of Tara (12/1) and Gordon Elliott’s Will Do (16/1) look solid each-way players at double-figure prices, but for win purposes, we will stick with Fine Margin (4/1). Hailing from the yard of Willie Mullins, this one ran a stormer last time out at Haydock when splitting Slate Lane and Crambo to finish second in a Grade 3 handicap. He’s up three pounds here, but with Crambo subsequently landing the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle, that form looks particularly solid. One of the more lightly raced runners in the field, he can be expected to step up on his first start in 213 days and go close under Brian Hayes.

3:10 Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle

Premier Handicap, 2m7½f

Dubrovnik Harry

Sandown provides the stage for the closing two legs. First up, this tricky handicap affair for the staying hurdlers. Dan Skelton’s West Balboa takes a big drop in class, having run in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle last time out – a race for which she went off as the 3/1 favourite. Having trailed home dead last, beaten by 45 lengths, she’s an 8/1 shot here, but possibly shouldn’t be written off just yet. That said, a weight of 12st demands a lot from a mare, and, even if back to her best, she may find a couple too good.

Distance winner Ed Keeper (4/1) and Transmission (7/1) make plenty of appeal, with the latter having done remarkably well to win despite his rider losing his irons last time out at Plumpton. Granted a smoother round, he shouldn’t be far away, but narrow preference is for the Harry Fry runner Dubrovnik Harry. On this one’s only previous visit to the track, he finished third in a quality 2m4f handicap, finishing ahead of Surrey Quest, Triple Trade, and Thunder Rock when running off a mark of 125. He gets in off 124 here and showed enough on his seasonal return at Cheltenham to suggest he may be up to scoring over this distance. Ignore his effort last time out at Haydock, as early interference knocked him out of his rhythm, and he wasn’t given a hard time afterwards.

3:45 Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m

Java Point

Impressive Badger Beer Chase winner, Blackjack Magic (7/2), heads the betting in the finale and should go close if in the same form. On the downside, he has since been beaten off a revised mark at Ascot and been bumped up another pound for his trouble. Having failed to convince with his jumping under a big weight that day, he looks worth taking on under top weight of 12st.

Fortescue (11/1) and Certainly Red (7/1) score highly in the stamina department and may come into the reckoning should this turn into a slog, but our vote goes to the Henry Oliver runner, Java Point. This one’s most recent win came at Newbury, which provides a similar galloping and stiff jumping challenge to Sandown, and he gets in off a four-pound lower mark here. Admittedly, that win did come back in 2022, but he went very nicely for a long way on his debut for his new trainer in December before a lack of fitness told in the straight. He now arrives having had an additional two months to settle into his new surroundings and can be expected to improve on his comeback outing.