Here we go for Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival. Here’s hoping everyone is enjoying the fantastic racing on perfect ground in a fantastic amphitheatre. Please God we’ll be able to attend in person next year.
Race 1 – 15:40: Specialist Joinery Group Handicap Hurdle
Nothing like another difficult 23 runner handicap hurdle to start the day off! I expect the favourite Five Helmets to go close but it might pay to look for a bit of value here and Whatsinthecorner (each way) coming back from a break from a stable in form, could run a big race at a nice price.
Race 2 - 16:15: Pigsback.com Handicap Chase
My two bets against the field (both each way) here are Jungle Junction, who is on a hat trick for his in-form stable having won well at Fairyhouse last time out and Raya Time, the choice of Rachael Blackmore from four of Henry’s runners, who went off 9/4 favourite last time and could do better now handicapping.
Race 3 – 16:50: Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase
Now for the longest race in Ireland, over the banks for the famous La Touche Cup sponsored by the well known local communications company. Some Neck looks the standout performer on form here and looks the likely winner. For the one/two forecast, Blue Templar comes from the right connections, is sure to be well schooled and could go well.
Race 4 – 17:25: Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
It is hard to look beyond the impressive Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle winner Flooring Porter here. If Ronald Pump resumes where he left off when second to Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace in November, he will give the selection most to do.
Race 5 – 18:00: Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle
Another difficult handicap hurdle puzzle. Willie Mullins only runs one, the likely favourite Capodanno, which might be a tip in itself. Two each way fancies at around 20/1 that should run well are Ben Dundee and Dallas Des Pictons.
Race 6 – 18:35: Ryanair Novice Chase
It is impossible to look past the odds-on favourite Energumene here, who was impressive in his three wins to date this season and missed Cheltenham with a muscle injury. He should give Willie Mullins his sixth win in a row in this race. Captain Guinness for the forecast.
Race 7 – 19:05: Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle
Willie Mullins provides three of the seven runners here but Henry De Bromhead’s Magic Daze looks to have the form edge on her second to Telmesomethinggirl in Cheltenham and she’s fancied to provide a winner for Rachael Blackmore.
Race 8 – 19:40: Grant Thornton (C & G) INH Flat Race
It’s very hard to go against the Willie and Patrick show in these contests and Dysart Dynamo could well do the business, but at 6/4 he is too short for me. Bardenstown Lad won by 15 lengths last time out and may be a good each way alternative.