Punchestown Festival 2018 – (Day 1)
Tuesday 24th April 2018
The Punchestown Festival of 2018 kicks off tomorrow and it’s the start of what promises to be an epic battle between Willie Mullins & Gordon Elliott in their pursuit of the Irish Trainers Championship.
Gordon comes here over 500,000 ahead in prize money however Willie has a strong hand in all of the top value Grade 1 contests. I can’t wait see how it all plays out and he’s my views on Day 1….
3.40 – Kildare Hunt Club Memorial Chase (3m)
The first race of the Punchestown Festival is the Memorial Chase over three miles over the banks.
The one I like here comes in the form of BLUE TEMPLAR for Edna Bolger and Derek O’Connor. A combination that do so well in this sphere I think this one can go very close. Enniskillen last year’s winner is obviously going to be very hard to beat but I think this younger contender could run him very close.
BLUE TEMPLAR – 13/8 –
4.20 – Champion Novice Hurdle (Class 1) (Grade 1) (2m)
The Champion Novice Hurdle is next a Grade 1 contest that’s ridden over two miles and it see’s the likes of Getabird, Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue re oppose each other again following their exploits in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival.
I think GETABIRD will come out on top here and he’s short enough in the betting to do so. He got back to winning ways in smart style the last day and I think it’ll be a similar front running performance here.
If you don’t want to take the short odds of the favourite I quite like another Mullins runner here at a big price and that comes in the form of DRACONIEN. He was second behind Getabird the last day and connections think a lot of him, he could well nab a place at a monster price. The better ground will help Sharjah too, another one for Mullins and also carrying the Ricci silks like the favourite.
GETABIRD – 11/10 –
DRACONIEN – 33/1 (E/W)
4.55 – Killashee Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) (2m)
TEN TEN – (11/1) (E/W)
(Hasn’t been since November but won well that day and is in Handicap company for the first time. Looks a chaser in the making but could go well here.)
JOEY SASA – (12/1) (E/W)
(Had a prep run for this on Polytrack a couple of weeks back and won, should be competitive and make some form of a bid.)
5.30 – Champion Chase (Class 1) (Grade 1) (2m)
Possibly the race of the meeting here and it comes in the form of the Champion Chase. A Grade 1 contest that’s ridden over two mile and it see’s a real statement from Willie Mullins.
Three of his big guns are set to do battle here in Douvan, Min and Un De Sceaux and it’s sure to be set up for some spectacle. Starting with Un De Sceaux I think he may unfortunately becoming to the end of the line on the back of his last few runs. He was disappointing at Cheltenham and was slightly fortunate the last day. There’s only so long you can carry on with his style of running and I wouldn’t be surprised if wasn’t placed here. I really hope i’m wrong though and there’s still a big one in him as he’s one of my all time favourite horses.
Min comes here on the back of some tough exploits at both Cheltenham and Aintree. He didn’t get passed Politologue over a longer trip at Aintree and this drop back two miles should be more his thing. I do think he might be feeling the effects of a tough season which is my concern with him here as he more than enough ability to be bang there.
I think the winner here will come in the form of DOUVAN. He seemed to be travelling with real enthusiasm before coming down at Cheltenham and if he’s anywhere near his best he’ll be extremely hard to beat here.
If you don’t want to risk the short odds of Douvan here I quite like DOCTOR PHOENIX for Gordon Elliott. He’s come on leaps and bounds since joining Elliott and is likely to be ridden off the pace here and could come through to pick up the pieces and grab a place off one of the Mullins battalions. Mark Walsh looks to take the ride.
DOUVAN – 11/10
DOCTOR PHOENIX – 7/1 (E/W)
6.05 – Goffs Land Rover Bumper (2m)
COMMANDER OF FLEET – (10/3)
(Won point well on the last outing and could well give a bold showing here for new powerful yard with top amateur rider booked.)
6.40 – Champion Novice Chase (Class 1) (Grade 1) (3m)
The Champion Novice Chase is another Grade 1 that takes place on Day 1 of the Punchestown Festival and this a contest that’s ridden over three miles.
You could make a case for a lot of the market leaders here and Monalee heads affairs for Henry de Bromhead. A very classy performer who was a good second behind Presenting Percy at Cheltenham.
The one I like here though is AL BOUM PHOTO for Willie Mullins. He won well the last day when beating JLT winner Shattered Love who he re opposes again here and I think he’s a solid contender at the prices to put in another bold showing.
AL BOUM PHOTO – (5/1) (E/W)
NAP: Getabird – 4.20
NB: Blue Templar – 3.50
(Ran fourth the last day under a not so testing ride from Oisin Murphy. The form of that race has since been franked I can see him building and going close here.)