leopardstown 26th Dec

Sun 23rd Dec 2012, 13:00

The 2012 Christmas Festival gets under way at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day and the highlight of day one is the Racing Post Novice Chase.

Arvika Ligeonniere has already struck at Grade One level, having destroyed his opposition in the Drinmore, but drops back to two miles one and has to take on Oscars Well, who put a Punchestown mishap behind him by scoring at Navan.

Baily Green was second in the Grade Two from which Oscars Well departed, and the field is made up of Benefficient and Dylan Ross.

Grade Two honours are up for grabs in the Q8 OILS Juvenile Hurdle and Willie Mullins' French import Blood Cotil, so impressive at Fairyhouse, gets weight from Our Conor, who struck at Grade Three level at the same venue at the expense of the reopposing Stocktons Wing.

Another of Mullins' Gallic recruits Urano couldn't quite start with a bang when touched off at Thurles but strives to go one better in the opening Bookmakers Bar At Bewleys Hotel Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle (12.20), where the Noel Meade-trained Ned Buntline lies in wait.

The champion trainer is responsible for The Paparrazi Kid in the Q8 OILS Maiden Hurdle although, like rival Operating, he has developed a touch of seconditis, and both are vulnerable to exciting bumper winners Anonis and Expanding Universe.

A decent prize goes to the winner of the Racing Post All You Need For Irish Racing Handicap Chase and Instant Impacked goes for a hat-trick against Fairyhouse scorer Lead Kindly Light and Jackonslady, who chased home the ill-fated Cristal Bonus in a Down Royal Grade Two on her most recent NH appearance.

Happy New Year tries for a four-timer in the Download The Free Racing Post Mobile App. Handicap Hurdle, while Blackmail, Bose Ikard, Rough Justice and Saffron Wells all attempt to atone for letting favourite-backers down in the Donohue Marquees INH Flat Race.