The Punchestown Festival is upon us and has certainly got some belting contests to get stuck into. A lot of big names will be out but we all know this festival is notorious for upsets due to long season’s taking their toll…..
3.40 – A three mile chase kicks proceedings off and is headed by Enniskillen for Peter Maher and Jamie Codd. He is on quite the losing run on the track however has had some decent runs over here, he was also second in this last year. Two that can’t be ignored either are the Edna Bolger pair of Equal Status and Blue Templar. Equal Status burst a blood vessel last time out however had some decent runs under his name before however Blue Templar’s form is patchy to say the least. Ednar has an outstanding record in these races though and these pair are 7/2 and 8/1 respectively. I think the one to the take the chance on for me is Enniskillen (9/4) though, a repeat of his run when he was second in this last year might be enough to take the spoils this time.
4.20 – The Champion Novice Hurdle next and it’s a bit of a rematch from the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins Melon heads affairs and he’s followed by a horse that gave this blog it’s finest hour in Labaik and sent me in to a Guiness filled heaven at Cheltenham. Tipped up on here at 50/1 for the Supreme Novices and if he decides that he wants to start he’s more than likely going to win again here. The issue is with him here though is that he’s massively shorter and obviously so at 9/4 and that price is a lot less appealing to be taking a chance on with a horse that it’s highly likely that he won’t start. That gives the vote to Melon (5/4) who was well clear of the field in second at Cheltenham and if Labaik decides he can’t be bothered then I can’t see anything pegging Melon back. Pingshou won well at Aintree last time out and could be somewhat of a dark horse in this if repeating that run.
5.30 – The Champion Chase, and another very exciting affair and it’s headed by one of my favourite National Hunt horses in Willie Mullins Un De Sceaux. This horse will come very close to being my National Hunt horse of the year as he’s been brilliant this season. I tipped him up in December for the Tingle Creek at Sandown where he just saw off Sire De Grugy in an absolute thriller and nearly got me kicked out of a toy shop for letting my emotions get the better of me in front of many disproving Christmas shoppers. I then tipped him up for the Clarence House where he blitzed the field on Trials Day. And he was then tipped up for the Ryanair at the festival where he put in my performance of the festival when he pulled Ruby to the front and said catch me if you can to his rivals, absolutely fantastic. Fox Norton for Colin Tizzard wiped the floor with the horse that was second to UDS in the Ryanair in Sub Lieutenant at Aintree and I think he’s going to be a big danger to the favourite. Obviously my loyalties will be lying with Un De Sceaux (10/11) but I wouldn’t put you off backing Fox Norton, or even the horse that won this last year when lowering the colours of Vautour in God’s Own for Tom George. These two are 7/2 and 7/1 respectively.
6.40 – Champion Novice Chase, Disko for Noel Meade, Bryan Cooper and Gigginstown head affairs here and is a short priced favourite trading at around evens. This is because he’s got some pretty eye catching form to his name with his third to Yorkhill at Cheltenham and his defeat of Irish National winner Our Duke the outing before that. A repeat of either of those runs will make him extremely hard to beat here and it certainly justifies his favoritism. I will be trying to take him on though here and i’ll be doing that in the form of Anibale Fly (9/2) for Tony Martin and Mark Walsh. This horse won a big handicap here in pretty impressive style last year. He won a Grade 3 in January despite being arguably disappointing in runs either side of that but has however always been held in high regards by connections and I believe can put a big run in here. Acapella Bourgeois for Sandra Hughes could be dangerous if allowed an early lead like he was in his romp at Navan back in February.