Welcome to my Punchestown Festival Day 2 Preview and Tips. 1 out of 2 yesterday with Disko doing the business. Let’s see if we can improve with 100% success today.
4.20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle
After his three bumpers last season, Battleford looked to be the real deal. He beat Presenting Percy and went on to be runner up in the Cheltenham and Aintree festival bumpers, but this campaign hasn’t gone to plan. Starting favourite four out of five starts and winning just the once, he has been disappointing. He may have bumped into a couple in the shape of The Storyteller and Monalee, but his performance in the Martin Pipe was very average and I wouldn’t be one to keep following him.
Milsean was very good for Willie Mullins, his most notable result was when he was second in the 2015 Albert Bartlett. He then moved to Mouse Morris after missing a season but he just hasn’t looked like the same horse. Well beaten in three completed starts and a third flight fall in a Grade 2 at Gowran, I couldn’t be trusting that he is the force he once was. He has been transferred to Gordon Elliott’s yard in the hope to rediscover some form.
Minella Till Dawn was disputing the lead when he came down at the final obstacle last time out and was battling bravely. If he suffers no ill affects from that incident then I see him as a big player. The form of his penultimate start over an inadequate trip has worked out well with the first and second going on to fill those same positions in a Grade 2.
Baden ran well at this meeting last year but he hasn’t seemed to have progressed from there, he has finished down the field in a couple of graded races and only just managed to come out on top in a class 4 maiden hurdle. Drumconnor Lad won well last time out on ground similar to this and is still improving, with Robbie Power on board he is not one to be ignored.
Bryan Cooper has chosen to ride Burgas but would need to find plenty of improvement from his latest running to figure. C’est Jersey appears to be Willie Mullins second string and was way back in the Albert Bartlett last time and cheekpieces are reached for, but it looks like a stiff task for him.
4.55 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
What a race this is on paper. Three Cheltenham Festival winners appear here alongside some other good quality horses.
I’ll start off with the Albert Bartlett winner Penhill, the step up to three miles has brought out the best in him. He won a Grade 2 in Limerick at the trip before heading to the Cotswolds where he was again impressive. Monalee wasn’t too far behind at Cheltenham and you have to bear in mind that Henry de Bromhead’s charge was right up with the pace the whole way and showed real resilience to keep on going. Penhill came from out the back that day with what was an expert ride by Ruby Walsh. I can’t say I would be surprised if those placings were reversed.
There was talk before Cheltenham that Presenting Percy was poorly handicapped, well what a load of rubbish that turned out to be! He won the Pertemps with ease and definitely deserves his chance in this company. Whether he is up to it is another matter entirely, he is obviously very good but going from handicaps to being a favourite for a Grade 1 is quite a step. I’m not saying he won’t win, but 11/4 doesn’t tickle my fancy.
Champagne Classic won the Martin Pipe beating some good horses. But this is a big step up and he has been behind Tin Soldier twice this season. The latter wasn’t disgraced when eighth in the Coral Cup, but based on his two victories prior to that effort I think he would need softer ground to be seen to best affect. Moulin A Vent split this pair at Thurles and this better ground should play to his strengths and I’m not sure he deserves to be the outsider.
Bon Papa won well on his penultimate start but failed to land a blow in the Neptune last month despite being hampered. He did begin to make eye-catching headway but folded after the second last and he might be another who needs softer ground. Finally Al Boum Photo won a Grade 2 last time beating some useful sorts in doing so, if he takes to this better ground and step up in distance then he could be a major player.
5.30 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1)
Sizing John was racing in Douvan’s shadow prior to stepping up to staying distances, since that change he has been a revelation. In winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup he stamped his mark on the division and I see no reason as to why he can’t claim another Grade 1 here. He jumped so well last time and accelerated away from the back of the second last and this ground will be fine for him.
Previous Cheltenham hero Coneygree returns to the track after five months off. His Gold Cup win was on soft ground but I’m not convinced it’s a necessity that he needs bottomless conditions to be effective as he has won on good to soft. He’ll be fresh and will no doubt bowl along in front and attempt to gallop his rivals into submission and he is the only one of these bar Flemenstar that hasn’t been beaten by Sizing John.
Djakadam has finished second in this race for the past two years and no doubt deserves a prize such as this. However, I’m just not convinced he truly stays the trip and believe he is better over shorter. The ground conditions should help him with that but I just can’t see him reversing the form with the favourite.
Outlander was soundly beaten at Cheltenham but he didn’t jump very well that day and was then hampered at the third last so any chance he may have had was lost. Back on home soil a repeat of his Lexus win puts him right in the mix. Champagne West was mightily impressive in the Thyestes but was outclassed in the Gold Cup and is up against it again here, along with the outsider Flemenstar who is way out of his depth.
6.05 Racing Post Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 1)
Carter Mckay had looked impressive for Willie Mullins before being firmly put in his place by Gordon Elliott’s Fayonagh in the Champion Bumper. She ended up being last at the start after jumping off a fraction late but she absolutely flew home to catch Debuchet, that one has come out and franked the form by winning at Limerick. Fayonagh is undoubtedly the one to beat.
Jessica Harrington has been having an unbelievable season and she has an exciting prospect entered here in Someday. His first start has worked out extremely well, he only went down half a length to Cilaos Emery who went on to win the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle here yesterday. Last time out Someday battled bravely to get the better of Voix Des Tiep, those two were a long way clear and I think he can go close.
Poli Roi was an expensive purchase for Gigginstown and won with plenty in hand at Navan. The owners seem to have a number of decent bumper horses and the fact they have chosen to bring him here shows that he must be a good horse.
Del Oro and Paloma Blue both won their debuts but that form doesn’t look as strong as the market leaders. Go Another One hasn’t been seen for nine months but the form of his last victory has worked out relatively well with the runner up going on to be sixth in the Pertemps at Cheltenham. Based on that he is in with a chance but would still need to find improvement to be involved.
6.40 Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A)
Jetstream Jack has been competing in some good quality races this season and he was second in a Grade 2 behind A Toi Phil in November, with yesterdays Champion Novice Chase winner Disko back in third. That is a strong piece of form and he has been racing on heavy ground the last couple of outings and this return to a sounder surface won’t inconvenience him.
Polidam is an interesting French recruit for Willie Mullins having been bought by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. They rarely buy bad ones and having won five times in France, has to be respected. Mr Diablo didn’t take to the Grand National fences at Aintree last time, but if reproducing the effort he put in at this festival last year when he was second to Avant Tout then he could have a big say.
The way this season is panning out, a runner in Alan and Ann Potts’ colours with Robbie Power on board simply can’t be ignored. Sizing Granite is a Grade 1 winner that just hasn’t been at his best this year. He has been pulled up in his two chase starts for Colin Tizzard but if rediscovering the form similar to his Aintree win at the expense of God’s Own, he is well handicapped.
Rightdownthemiddle ran really well at Aintree to finish second to Sizing Codelco, that trip was in excess of three miles and whether this drop in distance is what he wants I’m not too sure. In saying that he is on a lenient mark and in the hands of Jack Kennedy he must be in with a great chance.
Rebecca Curtis is double handed here, the first is Irish Cavalier who since winning the Charlie Hall at the start of the season has offered little encouragement. He wears a first time tongue tie and needs that to spark him back into life if he is to get involved. Vintage Vinnie should appreciate this ground and is only 3lb higher than his Listed win in September.
Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4.20PM, Wednesday 26th April): 2pt win Minella Till Dawn (3/1 general)
Racing Post Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (6.05PM, Wednesday 26th April): 2pt win Someday (4/1 general)