Death Duty extended his unbeaten record over fences to three with a comprehensive victory in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse earlier this month and while trainer Gordon Elliott had suggested his charge was likely to head to Limerick for a two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two, he instead runs over two miles in the feature event on the opening card of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.
His inclusion sets up an intriguing clash with the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad, who was fourth in last season’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and could not have been more impressive when producing a foot-perfect display on his chasing debut at Navan in November.
Death Duty is one of two representatives for Gigginstown House Stud along with Henry de Bromhead’s recent Punchestown scorer Avenir D’Une Vie.
Death Duty faces Footpad at Leopardstown
Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now and Jett from Jessica Harrington’s yard complete the five-strong Grade One field.
The main supporting race on a quality seven-race card is the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, in which Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’Allen takes top billing.
The JP McManus-owned three-year-old is three from three over hurdles, most recently landing a Grade Three at Fairyhouse, and must concede weight all round in this Grade Two contest.
Elliott’s Fairyhouse runner-up Mitchouka renews rivalries. The Cullentra handler also saddles French recruit Farclas, who makes his National Hunt bow.
The opening Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle sees last season’s Champion Bumper runner-up Debuchet make his hurdling debut for Mags Mullins.
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