Punchestown Festival 2018 – Day 2 Preview and Tips

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3.40 – Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 95-123): The best form in this race belongs to Cross My Mind, who disappointed when favourite for a valuable handicap at Ascot behind Jenkins. He had run a big race when third in the December Handicap Hurdle at Sandown the time before and connections will be hopeful of bettering his sixth place from last year.

The last time Killaro Boy ran over hurdle she cut no ice in a Gowan Handicap Hurdle but since then he was a very good fourth in a Grade B handicap chase and if he takes to hurdling then he’s well in by a good margin for Aidan Murray and Paul O’Brien.

Nobody Home has really thrived for a switch back to hurdles over the past couple of weeks and his gutsy win in a similar contest at Fairyhouse is easily amongst the ebst form here. He has a 7lbs rise for that but that’s earned him a place in the field and he is frankly more convincing than a great majority of his oppression and comes out as the token choice.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Nobody Home (14/1 general)

4.20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle: Sire Du Berlais sets a pretty clear standard based on his fourth in the Martin Pipe and has been found a good winning opportunity. The subsequent win of Dies Des Bieffes puts the form in a good light and he should take all the beating here. Willie Mullins’ pairing of Pravalaguna, fourth in a handicap at Fairyhouse last week, and the useful mare Good Thyne Tara, are both sure to be threats here.

Not Many Left didn’t run to form when favourite for the Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle, but this might not be as taxing and his maiden hurdle win at Navan was very taking indeed. And it’s also interesting that power connections persist with Prix de Morlaix winner Rcok De Baune who disappointed on his Irish debut.

Le Martalin and Poli Roi have place chances.

Advice: 3 pts win Sire Du Berlais (9/4 general)

4.55 – Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+): This should be a corking match between Next Destination and Kilbricken Storm and the former edges a very tight vote although is short so won’t be a bet. Things happened too quickly for him in the Ballymore at Cheltenham Festival 2018 but he made a lot of late ground to take third and a step up in trip is overdue for the Grade 1 winner who was previously unbeaten over hurdles. The form of his Lawlor’s Hotel win at Naas in January is working out well and the Neptune runner up Black Op won again at Aintree to underline the form.

Kilbricken Storm’s Albert Bartlett win was a real war of attrition and to come through it as convincingly as he did having taken a relatively close rank to a scorching pace set by Fabulous Saga was a very taking performance. It will be interesting to see how he takes to the much tighter Punchestown track on what looks like it’ll be much better ground than we had at the Festival. Ballyward, held right out at the back, was a taking fourth that day on his first start at three miles and promises to improve, if not now, then next year. A less attritional race might well bring him into matters and he’s interesting.

It says a lot about Delta Work that connections have decided to go for this opportunity rather than another handicap given the generous mark of 145 he has in Ireland after his Pertemps win and he’s improving all the time. Gordon Elliott took Champagne Classic from a handicap at the Festival to win here last year and he needs to be seriously respected.

Blow By Blow put in one of the best handicap performances of the week when he romped home in the Martin Pipe off top weight (Discorama second, getting 8lbs) but he was beaten backing up quickly at Fairyhouse in a Grade 2 novice hurdle and that could have left a mark. Jetz was well ahead of him there and has been running consistently all season, not least when finishing a neck second to Tower Bridge in a Grade 1 for staying novices at Leopardstown.

Brahma Bull found the Neptune too much for him but perhaps he might be better back at this trip although he still has a lot to do.

Advice: No bet

5.30 – Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) (5yo+): Road To Respect has the best form in the race courtesy of huis fourth in the Gold Cup and if he can repeat that effort here he ought to take the beating on a surface that should suit him better. Before that he had beaten the Ryanair winner in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown and it augurs well that he backed up a Festival win last year with a win at Fairyhouse after a gap of a month too. He can once again beat Djakadam, Edwulf, Killtuagh Vic and Outlander, with Total Recall one of interest if he’s over his Grand National run where he never took to the fences. He was going well when falling in the Gold Cup and certainly worth another chance here.

Advice: 2 pts win Road To Respect (9/4 Boylesports, Bet Victor)

6.05 – Racing Post Champion I.N.H. Flat Race For The Conyngham Cup (Grade 1) (4-7yo): All of the leading lights from the Champion Bumper cross swords again and whilst Relegate will need to take closer order around this track her performance to come from last to first was the best by a good distance and she can is likely to follow in the footsteps of Fayonagh, Champagne Fever and Cousin Vinny in following up a Cheltenham win at Punchestown for the stable.

Carefully Selected was given a fantastic ride by Danny Mullins to nick a four-length advantage at the start and it seems unlikely that Derek O’Connor will be able to do the same this time around. Blackbow was sent off favourite for he Champion following an impressive Grade 2 win at Leopardstown but didn’t race with the same maturity as he did beforehand and didn’t finish his race off with the same zest, a comment that applies to Gordon Elliott’s Felix Desjy.

Blackbow might take to Punchestown with more aplomb and has to be considered a serious threat along with Tornado Flyer too from the Mullins yard. Blackbow appears still to be the stable pick however.  Felix Desjy makes slightly more appeal than Getaway John and Rapid Escape for Gordon Elliott and the early pace of the race will be fascinating.

Advice: No bet.

6.40 – Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A) (5yo+): Colin Tizard had the 1-2 in this last year and perhaps the same connections can strike with the obvious contender Shanhan’s Turn, who did much of his running late when finishing second in the Topham Chase at Aintree. That was a return to form which he hadn’t found for some time but he’s fresher than most having not run since November before his spring comeback in the Plate at the Festival, so hopefully he can take the effects of that run in stride and he has a big chance if reproducing that form.

Polidam didn’t enjoy Aintree and hasn’t really refound the form of his wide margin win in the Foxrock handicap chase, although on that form he remains well handicapped and he’s only really had one race that might suit since. Favourite Patricks Park could find plenty of improvement at his trip for all he was a little disappointing in a Grade B at Fairyhouse when sent off a strong favourite, having previously been an impressive winner of the Sandyford Novice Handicap Chase

Clarcam travelled beautifully into the Topham before just finding the ground too testing and backing out of matters later. He’s got plenty of form to recommend him here and is clearly on a decent mark although he would prefer that the ground doesn’t get too soft with the rain that has hit the course since the first day.

Woodland Opera won the Craddockstown Chase and is on a good mark based not only on that but also his win in the Grade A Novice Handicap Chase at this festival last year off a 6lbs lower mark. Blast Of Koeman is another for the shortlist.

Of the biggest prices, Champagne West, who looked a Graded horse when thrashing a good field in the Thyestes Chase last January. Since then he hasn’t made up into the Graded horse that connections had hoped but he’s dropped a lot in the weights since and he’s also one that won’t mind the rain either. His extra stamina ought to be a big help and he’s interesting even as top weight to outrun his price.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Shanhan’s Turn (8/1 general)

7.15 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (Grade 3) (4-7yo): Colreevy’s seventh in the Champion Bumper sets a high standard here and the time before when turned over at the Dublin Racing Festival, she was beaten by the Champion Bumper winner and the winner of the Aintree Mares’ Bumper. Attitude worries might be an issue for some but she’s got a fine form chance.

Tintangle was an impressive winner of a Fairyhouse Listed Bumper from Masons Daughter and she won’t need to improve much from that to take a serious hand and watch out for the other seriously eye-catching winner Largy Glory, who has since moving to the Harringtons.

Advice: No bet.