Punchestown Festival 2018 – Day 1 Preview and Tips

Thanks to Will Kedjanyi for his preview of Day 1 at Punchestown Festival 2018. For our full range of tips, join us here – JOIN OUR COMMUNITY. 

3.40 – Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup (5yo+): Always a lot of fun to watch but not a huge betting race and eye is drawn to last year’s first and third Ennniskillen and Blue Templar. Being just seven, Blue Templar might be the more likely to repeat his best form, and he warmed up with a handy third in a point for this. His third over course and distance behind Auvergnat and Josie’s Orders (when Enniskillen was fifth) is probably the best piece of hunting form this season.

Advice: 2 pts win Blue Templar (13/8 general)

4.20 – Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (5yo+): Getabird returned to his true self at Fairyhouse, after boiling over in the Supreme when a combination of being uncontrollable and perhaps going left handed saw him bomb out, and on the form of his Moscow Flyer win over Mengli Khan, he really ought to take the beating. Another bold bid is a certainty but it’s worth noting that Mengli Khan is 6lbs better off here and he, like those who come from the Supreme, didn’t go to Fairyhouse after and the playing field might be more event.

Paloma Blue was fourth in the Supreme, a length behind Mengli Khan, but it’s interesting to note that he one win has come on the best surface he’s raced on and he also chased home Fayonagh last season in the bumper on a soundish surface (good/yielding). He appeared to mature a lot for his run in the Deloitte Novices’ at Cheltenham, perhaps settling better for the stronger gallop, and on a surface, which is currently yielding perhaps he might be happiest of all and he can get closer to the leading pair here.

Another horse to watch closely is Sharjah, who looked so good before Christmas when probably set to win the Future Champions when falling at the last. His Deloitte effort was disappointing, but connections have been adamant that he wants better ground and with that in mind his efforts in the Supreme (eighth) and Fairyhouse (fourth) can be significant upgraded and based on Pre-Christmas form there’s a good argument for making him half the price he currently is.

Vision Des Flos finally seemed to put it all together when second in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and it’s worth noting that Colin Tizzard has a decent record as far as bringing raiders over here goes. On the bare form of his second to Lalor, he needs to step forward once again however.

Whiskey Sour was a fine third in the County and is very lightly raced over hurdles; The two time Galway winner could well be hitting a summer peak back on good ground and did catch the eye amongst the bigger priced horses. Draconien, Hardline, Cartwright, and Beyond The Law all look to have a hill to climb to get involved.

Advice: 2 pts each/way Paloma Blue (11/2 general), 1 pt each/way Sharjah (14/1 general)

4.55 – Killashee Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) (4yo+): An unimaginative betting strategy but Ballyosin has improved hand over first this season as a chaser and if he runs to the same level back over hurdles as he has for any of his last five starts, including a Grade 2 second and a Grade B handicap chase win, then he will take the beating here.

Low Sun is an obvious choice, aiming to follow up a win in the Grade A RYBO Handicap Hurdle here. A 9lbs rise is not exactly kind treatment from the handicapper but he’s had just the four starts and still has a fine racing weight with Kate O’Farrell able to take off 7lbs. Such a contest seemed to bring out the best in him at Fairyhouse and with a clear run he can go well.

Last year’s winner Western Boy took that off a break (261 days) and is just 6lbs higher here, coming off a 170-day break since a strong effort when third in the November Handicap, and he has to be on any shortlist and watched closely in the betting. Of the bigger prices, Veinard catches the eye for Gordon Elliott. Things haven’t dropped right for him in a big field handicap for quite some time but when it does he can go very well as he did last year at Fairyhouse when second in a Grade A handicap hurdle.

Watch out too for Ten Ten, third to Sharjah on debut before winning next time in a maiden hurdle which has worked out well. He can prove better than his featherweight.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Ballyosin (8/1 Bet365), 1 pt each/way Low Sun (12/1 Bet365, Hills)

5.30 – BoyleSports Champion Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+): A terrific spectacle is in store as we see Douvan take on Min and Un De Sceaux. For eight fences Douvan travelled with all the zest of the horse many had down as the best in training on his comeback in the Champion Chase before he came down, frustratingly too far out to guess his finishing position – for all that he had travelled like the best horse in the race to that point. If he’s back to his best then he will take all the beating, but on his second run back after a year out there’s more than enough worries to prevent one from backing him, especially at 5/4.

Ordinarily Min would be the one to take advantage, having run so well in the Champion Chase to finish second, but he had a hard race in the Melling Chase when just outbattled by Politologue, having paid the price for his exertions through the race when pulling and running keen early. That hard a race with just 11 days to recover could take the edge off him and it’s the same for Un De Sceaux, a solid second in the Ryanair who might be better at 2m5f on a yielding surface these days.

There are some doubts as to wither he’d have beaten the rapidly progressive Doctor Phoenix, who was looming menacingly behind Un De Sceaux before he fell with two to go in the Devenish Chase and appeared to have more running to give. He was a good second to the flying Great Field beforehand and will enjoy the very strong gallop.

Is it possible that this is out of the reach of Special Tiara? The winner of last year’s Champion Chase was beaten 13 lengths by Min at Leopardstown but that was a fine third run of the season which suggested he was coming right to the boil and crucially this will be his first run on good ground since finishing second to Altior in the Celebration Chase. Noel Fehily will need to make sure that he doesn’t go too fast but from sensible fractions there’s a case to be made.

He appeals far more than the rest of the outsiders Ordinary World, A Toi Phil. Ballycasey, The Game Changer and Tell Us More.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Special Tiara (20/1 general)

6.05 – Goffs Land Rover Bumper (4-5yo): Plenty of interest in this and lots of decent winners in the past of a valuable bumper. It’s interesting that Think Positive has moved to the Mullins yard after his keeping on Towcester fourth. There’s a whole host of newcomers here but That’s A Given caught the eye when winning at Huntingdon on debut and Phillip Hobb’s charge ought to improve from that and can go very well although the arket will tell us a lot.

Gordon Elliott runs four and point winner Column Of Fire is understandably favourite. He looks the key choice but Column Of Fire, Ferocious and Satana Plessis will need to be watched closely in the market whilst Joseph O’Brien has Derek O’Connor booked for Glocca Mora which takes the eye.

Advice: No bet.

6.45 – Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+): A corking contest and whilst some might have stamina doubts about Monalee he lost no caste in finishing second to Presenting Percy in the RSA and he had enough to hold off Ryanair Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo in the Flogas at Cheltenham when Invitation Only was also third. That form gives him an advantage over JLT Novice Chase winner Shattered Love and he’s barely put a foot wrong over fences apart from his Christmas fall which is a thing of the past.

Finian’s Oscar is a huge danger if he jumps and winning the Manifesto Novices’ Chase will have done his confidence a world of good. But even then, he didn’t jump well, and this is a much harder test coming off an 11 day turn around. 3 miles ought to bring the best in him but he will need a cleaner round of jumping to get involved in a much harder test.

Rathvinden fought valiantly to take the 4 miler at the Cheltenham Festival, due compensation for a couple of mishaps when there was nothing he could to prevent himself from being brought down twice at Leopardstown. He’s not short of a turn of pace either although perhaps softer ground would have been better for him.

The Storyteller looked exposed in the Ryanair Gold Cup after his win in the Plate at the Festival and Dounkios has been desperately disappointing since a fine fourth in the Flogas. Monbeg Nortious will find this more skiable than the Thyestes although eh still has to improve a little with the same comments applying to Jury Duty and Youcantcallmethat.

Advice: 2 pts win Monalee (15/8 general)

7.15 – Dooley Insurances Flat Race (4yo): Henry De Bromhead looks to have a decent recruit in Malinas Jack, who was a fine second to Champion Bumper fourth Acey Milan at Cheltenham when eight lengths clear of the third. He’s run well on both decent and testing ground and hopefully continues his progression. Jessica Harrington has another horse with strong claims in the shape of Barrington Court, who ran into the runner up of the George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper on debut and then finished second in a listed race too.

Gordon Elliott has won this twice in the last five years with Gigginstown House Stud-owned inmates so Adulterated and Final List will be popular whilst Noel Meade’s In Your Shadow is one of man who looks the part on paper.

Advice: No bet.