An excellent end to the first day thanks to Delta Work and Front View, whilst we have a strong contender for next year’s Festival thanks to Klassical Dream. Today looks just as tricky, with the ground sure to ride a good deal softer than today thanks to the consistent rain – regardless of a dry night or morning.
3.40 – Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 95-123): A strong raiding team heads the market thanks to Musical Slave, Ballyhome, and Duc De Beauchene, but the best of the home team might well be Press Conference, who ground it out when getting the better of the hotly rated Annamix back at Christmas. Some might doubt that form but Annamix has won since and there were six more lengths back to the third – what’s more, this very much looks to have been the target.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Press Conference (12/1 Hills)
4.20 – Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final: Zero Ten was shocked by Dommage Pour Toi in the Easter Festival Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, but he had the previous Graded winner Easy Game behind (albeit getting weight) and his two previous wins had been that of a ery useful horse. He can make a bold shot of giving weight to the field here, including The Holy One, Whatsafellatodo, and Mister Eddman.
Advice: 1 pt win Zero Ten
4.55 – Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4yo+): One of the most fascinating and tricky races of the week. On the rare occasions we’ve seen the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle form tested it’s generally stood up and Vision D’honneur might appreciate a step up in trip. He ran a little below form when seventh at Cheltenham but his fourth and third to Klassical Dream doesn’t look too bad now. The rain that’s hit the track is not good news for Paloma Blue, who’s switching back from fences, but the ex-French Mares Hurdle sixth Elimay could well have a serious chance if the ran keeps coming down.
The market moves will tell us a huge amount about the fascinating contenders Crack Tiepy (last seen winning a Wexford Condtions Hurdle with ease in November 2016) and Crack Mome, who was once very short for the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and who is a previous Grade 2 second) with both of significant interest down the road. Valideu has been exposed at the highest level but ought to be more competitive here and it is very interesting that Days Without End and Caribert come here for Dermot Weld and Harry Fry.
Advice: 1 pt win Vision D’honneur (11/4 general)
5.30 – Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+): The rain that’s hit the ground and his extremely strong finish at the end of the Albert Bartlett earn Minella Indo the vote over Commander of Fleet and Allaho, the two horses that he beat at Cheltenham. Carefully Selected, placed in both Champion Bumpers last season, will take all the rain that Ireland can throw at the ground and has to be more of a threat after the rain yesterday. Walk Away was a creditable fourth in the Sefton and could well improce from that and the rest of the field either has been beaten at graded level or takes a sharp rise in class.
Advice: 1 pt win Minella Indo (11/4 general)
6.05 – Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Chase) (Grade 1) (5yo+): With due respect to fie of the eight runner field, there’s a feeling that this comes down to Willie Mullins’ top three contenders. Kemboy has been visually brilliant in both his Grade 1 wins but Al Boum Photo’s Gold Cup win was a deeply impressive coming of age performance. If he’s recovered from that run – and hopefully 48 days from just his second run of his season he will have – then he sets the standard here and this will be a tougher all round race than the relative Aintree stroll that Kemboy had, despite his incredibly speedy win in the Betfred Bowl. Bellshill, last year’s winner, deserves obvious respect if getting his jumping back together following a bad outing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, although he was nine lengths behind Kemboy.
Advice: 2 pts win Al Boum Photo (6/4 general)
6.40 – Racing Post App Champion INH. Flat Race For The Conyngham Cup (Grade 1) (4-7yo): Abracadabras looks a stayer in time but the rain that’s hit the track has put the emphasis on stamina based on the two bumpers yesterday and his fourth to Envoi Allen in the Cheltenham Bumper is the best form here. He shades the vote from fellow Gigginstown runner Embittered, who took advantage of Abracadabras running out at Leopardstown, when Beason Edge (also Gigginstown) was fourth behind him. Santa Rossa was third in Aintree’s bumper after winning the Mares’ Grade 2 at Leopardstown and should be on the premises. Willie Mullins has dominated this race in pervious editions so it is interesting that one of his contenders here is a second season bumper horse. Colreevy needed the run when third at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival but she was a wide margin winner against her own sex at last season’s festival who was seventh in last season’s Campion Bumper. Mount Leinster was beaten by Golden Spread at Fairyhouse and was also behind Embittered and Beacon Edge at Leopardstown.
Advice: 1 pt Abracadabras (15/8 general)
7.10 – Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A) (5yo+): Class Conti made a fine start to life at Closutton when he won well at Tramore and the more rain the better for him, so it’s not hard to see how he goes close. Livelovelaugh went brilliantly for so long in the Grand National but he’s not the most consistent and one wonders if he will repeat that performance here just 25 days after. A number make appeal but Blaster Of Koeman was a neck second in this race last year off just a 4lbs lower mark and he comes here having won fairly impressively at Punchestown over hurdles just before the new year.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Blast Of Koeman (8/1 general)
7.45 – Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race (Grade 3) (4-7yo): A well contested renewal where Minella Melody makes most appeal. Unlike the exciting favourite Gypsy Island she’s accustomed to soft ground and her second to The Glancing Queen at Aintree doesn’t look too bad given that The Glancing Queen was a good fifth in the Champion Bumper. Yukon Lli has been consistent but was no match for Gypsy Island and Daylight Katie was behind Minella Melody when last seen. The fly in the ointment is Bioverdia, a wide margin winner at Ballinrobe for Gordon Elliot, in what is an open race.
Advice: 2 pts Minella Melody (3/1 general)