Here we go again! There are two certainties regarding Punchestown for the last number of years: (1) It will rain during the week and (2) Willie Mullins will have plenty of winners. Watch out for his lightly raced or unexposed ones as many have had long seasons. Given recent dry conditions, Tuesday should pay to stick with horses that like good or firm ground.
Race 1 – 3.40: 2m½f (2m100y) Have The Conversation Say Yes To Organ Donation Novice Handicap Hurdle (4yo+)
A tricky and competitive novices handicap hurdle to start the week. I like Ya Ya Baby, who won last time out and the race has worked out well, comes from the right connections, is on the improve and is very strong in the market. Hallowed Star won his bumper on good to yielding so should be more suited by today’s ground than when second at Naas on soft – he could be well handicapped and is an each way fancy.
Race 2 – 4.15: 2m½f (2m100y) eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (5yo+)
Echoes in Rain looked a top class prospect when slamming a decent field by fifteen lengths under a Grade 2 penalty in Fairyhouse and looks a certainty receiving her mare’s allowance here. Blue Lord for the forecast.
Race 3 – 4.50: 2m½f (2m100y) Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) (4yo+)
A really tricky handicap hurdle. Going for two of Willie’s each way here. Jazzaway, whose second at Galway has been advertised by the winner since and Whiskey Sour, last seen on the flat in the Chester Cup in May 2019.
Race 4 – 5.25: 2m William Hill Champion Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+)
One of the races of the week! Nice to see two English runners here, of which Nube Negra looks to have the best chance based on his fast finishing second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. The major protagonists are the Willie Mullins pair of Allaho who blitzed the field in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, and Chaqun Pour Soi who didn’t appear suited by the stiff Cheltenham finish when beaten at odds-on in the Champion Chase. A fascinating renewal in which I fancy Chaqun Pour Soi to come home in front with Nube Negra for the forecast.
Race 5 – 5.55: 2m½f (2m100y) Goffs Land Rover Bumper (4-5yo)
The Goffs Land Rover bumper – time to make a cup of tea. There will be plenty of fancy for both Patrick Mullins’ and Jamie Codd’s mounts but there is no value in the prices. For a sporting bet I was very impressed by Au Flueron’s win in Tipperary so, if you must have a bet, a tentative each way vote goers to De Capo Glory, fourth in that race.
Rcce 6 - 6.30: 3m½f (3m120y) Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+)
The race of the week! The two best staying novice chasers in these islands take each other on in what could well be a prelude to next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Had Envoi Allen stood up in Cheltenham (and won) he would probably be odds on here. Having had more time to settle into his new Waterford home, he reportedly is working very well and I’m taking Envoi Allen to make up for his Cheltenham lapse and have too many guns for Monkfish.
Race 7 – 7.00: 3m1f (Bank) Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup (5yo+)
Enda Bolger’s Youcannotbeserious is odds-on favourite here and Enda has a superb record over the banks so you discount his runners at your peril. Jamie Codd is a top jockey and he should give you a good spin for each way money to small stakes on Vital Island.
Race 8 – 7.35: 2m½f (2m100y) Irish Field - We Are All About The Horse INH Flat Race (4yo)
Not much form to go on in a tricky concluding race, but Hara Kiri went off favourite when beaten in the bumper in Gowran on Thyestes day and may well be worth another chance on different ground. However at 2/1 his odds are skimpy indeed and remember there’s four more days to go – Happy Punting!