It Came To Pass can strike egalitarian blow in Paddy Power

Douvan should enjoy lucrative lap of honour on day two of Leopardstown festival

If Douvan's probable lap of honour represents the elitist aspect of the second day of Leopardstown's Christmas festival, then It Came To Pass can strike a more egalitarian blow in Tuesday's €190,000 Paddy Power Chase.

As a handicap, and the Christmas festival’s most valuable pot, the Paddy Power aspires to being more of a level playing field compared to the Grade One action, although its make-up might suggest otherwise.

Of the 28 runners, leading owners JP McManus and Michael O'Leary are heavily represented with six and four runners respectively, while the leading trainer Gordon Elliott has half a dozen hopefuls and Willie Mullins has four plus a reserve.

Strength in depth is always helpful but – dead-heats aside – a single representative is still all that's required to win and it can come to pass just after 3pm that Jim Culloty winds up proving the point once again.


If it seems incongruous to paint in egalitarian colours someone part of an elite group to have both ridden and trained a Gold Cup winner, then that’s another sign of how so much big-race ammunition is currently stockpiled in so few hands.

Putting Dr Ronan Lambe in an underdog role hardly seems right either, especially since It Came To Pass boasts his own notable pedigree, being a half-brother to Lord Windermere who won the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup for the owner and trainer combination.


The reality is, however, that It Came To Pass is up against it in one of the most competitive handicaps of the season and especially so since he is the most inexperienced runner in the race.

This is a horse that has run in two point-to-points, three hunter chases and just one regular race earlier this month in which he finished last. They are hardly obvious credentials but they do mean he races off a mark of 130, which hindsight could make look lenient.

Runner-up in last February’s big hunter chase over the course and distance, It Came To Pass was subsequently running a fine race in the Cheltenham Foxhunters when coming down three out.

He should strip fitter for his comeback run in a Navan Grade Three over three miles and Denis O’Regan looks a good jockey-booking to help nurse an inexperienced runner through the helter-skelter of a race like the Paddy Power.

The Crafty Butcher, made up of a syndicate that includes Irish rugby international Ian Madigan, has been antepost favourite for some time, while the better the ground the better the chances of a true underdog success for Karl Thornton's runner, Colm's Dream.

JP McManus's colours are always to be feared in big handicaps and the old firm of Barry Geraghty and Tom Taaffe should be major players with Rogue Trader.

Taaffe too is a former Gold Cup winner gunning for another lucrative pot. But there could be value in betting that Jim Culloty will make this Paddy Power come to pass.

Seismic shock

A much more aesthetic prospect is in store for the €100,000 Cashcard Chase, since it will be a seismic shock if Douvan doesn’t make it an unbeaten “Diamond Dozen” since joining the Mullins team.

The horse long acclaimed by the champion trainer as the most exciting he’s ever had through his hands seems destined to dominate the two-mile ranks this season and considering he has put his main rival Sizing John to the sword on the half-dozen occasions they have met, destiny should play out as expected on Tuesday.

Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team has half of the eight runners in the Grade One Future Champions Novice Hurdle and their number one jockey Bryan Cooper looks to have picked right in L’Avenir D’Une Vie.

The grey has to step up considerably from his smooth debut success over flights at Fairyhouse, but there was a lot to like about the way the ex-Mullins-trained runner went about it that day.

Rarely can a trainer have unveiled as talented a pick of hurdling newcomers as Joseph O’Brien appears to in the opening maiden hurdle.

Sword Fighter won a Queens Vase and a Curragh Cup on the flat, yet Barry Geraghty has opted to ride Housesofparliament instead. That’s hardly surprising considering the last time this horse ran he finished third in the St Leger.

Leopardstown: 12.15 - Housesofparliament; 12.45 - Bacardys; 1.20 - Douvan; 1.55 - L’Avenir D’Une Vie; 2.30- Swamp Fox; 3.0 - It Came To Pass; 3.35 - Ballyward

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column