Well yesterday’s advice didn’t quite go plan and I can only apologise for that. Minella Till Dawn just didn’t want to be there and Someday was a bit fresh but ultimately wasn’t good enough. But what a finish we witnessed to the Gold Cup, it was unbelievable! Good to see my colleagues Will and Oli put Sizing John up too.
What a race – Sizing John wins the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup! pic.twitter.com/WNSWXy3ybL
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) April 26, 2017
A few very competitive races today on Punchestown Festival Day 3 and hopefully I have provided some decent information for you.
4.15 Nick Coen Memorial Handicap Chase (Grade B)
There are some good quality horses in here, not least Don’t Touch It who won the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at this meeting last year. You can’t say he hasn’t taken to fences, but he has only notched up one win from five starts. Last time out he was behind Hurricane Ben who reopposes here. That was impressive from the front last time out and he has won his fair share of races, but there is an 8lb swing in the weights here and I would fancy Don’t Touch It to be much closer, if not ahead this time around.
Tully East won a Listed handicap at the Cheltenham Festival when last seen and that form has taken a boost with the third going on to win at Ayr last week. He is 6lbs higher now which isn’t too harsh but I would be surprised if there aren’t a couple who are better handicapped.
Potters Point has clearly had his problems as he has only raced seven times under rules. Having never finished outside of the frame he is clearly very talented, he beat Don’t Touch It in a bumper here a couple of years ago. He had his first run over fences nine days ago and only just managed to win, but that was his first run for six months and you would like to think he will come on for it.
Colin Tizzard’s horses weren’t firing at Cheltenham but have shown they are right back in form now, Sizing Platinum was way down the field in the Grand Annual. His second to Fox Norton back in November reads pretty well now and if producing a performance like that off a mark 3lb lower in a first time tongue tie, he should go close.
Third Opinion has moved to Gordon Elliott’s yard after almost two years off and bolted up on debut for his new trainer. This is a big step up though and he will need to avoid the dreaded bounce factor. Mr Fiftyone represents the Harrington/Power combination but he looks to have plenty to find in order to figure.
5.30 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1)
Defending champion One Track Mind returns in a bid to put his poor season behind him. He has only had the two runs this campaign and both were over fences, but neither of them were anywhere near to the level he showed last season. He will have been trained with this in mind for some time but will need to be reignited.
Nichols Canyon won the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in good style and clearly the step up in trip is what was needed this season. A winner of no less than eight Grade 1s at the age of 7 he is some talent. He beat a number of these last month and to be honest I can’t see anything getting the better of him today either.
Unowhatimeanharry lost his unbeaten run at Cheltenham when third to Nichols Canyon, the ground may have played a part in that as it wasn’t as soft as what he had been winning on for the majority of the season. This surface is similar and if that was the problem then I can’t see him reversing the form, but I’m not sure Harry Fry’s horses were at their best and he may provide a greater battle this time around.
The gallant Lil Rockerfeller ran a blinder to be second at Cheltenham, but you would have to say that was unexpected and it would be a surprise to see him repeat that. Richard Johnson takes the ride and you couldn’t have anyone better on board a horse that often takes plenty of cajoling along.
Sutton Place is becoming a very good horse and his comfortable beating of Supasundae has taken a massive boost with that one winning the Coral Cup and finishing runner up in the Liverpool Hurdle. He hasn’t encountered ground this fast which is the danger, but there is no doubting he could be good enough. Footpad has ran in the top two mile races this season and after staying on late has been upped to three miles which looks like it will play to his strengths.
6.05 Shamrock Enterprises Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)
Our Duke’s brother Oscar Sam comes into this fresh after his last race in February. He was third that day, ahead of Presenting Percy giving him 9lbs so that form looks rock solid. Oscar Sam won his penultimate start well under Robbie Power and with those two reunited today he must stand a great chance.
No Comment ran well in the Martin Pipe but got a bit outpaced and tried three miles for the first time at the Aintree Festival last time where he ran on very encouragingly to be second. The winner got away from them that day and providing that race hasn’t taken too much out of him he should go well. He was ahead of Minella Awards at Plumpton in January and that one went on to improve to win a Grade 3 at Sandown, reopposing on worse terms here he can still run well.
Boasting strong form behind Penhill and Blood Crazed Tiger, Oathkeeper could be on a lenient mark of 132 on his handicap debut. He should like the ground and has gone well fresh in the past, so the six month absence isn’t an issue.
Kate Appleby Shoes hasn’t been out of the frame this season and has won her last two. All her runs have come on ground with plenty of give in though and this sounder surface is an unknown. She does seem to be an out and out stayer though so this trip should suit her. Okotoks looks fairly treated based on his fourth last time and he’s had a break, the jockey booking of Davy Russell is eye-catching and he has a nice racing weight.
6.40 Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1)
This looks like a highly competitive race, but you can certainly pick a few holes in those near the top of the market. The favourite is Great Field for Willie Mullins, this horse has one hell on an engine! He has won his three chase starts by going out from the front and never seeing another rival, he gets so far clear early that nothing can touch him towards the end. On this basis he will be severely difficult to beat, but his jumping can be very sketchy at times, Jody McGarvey has done very well not to come off him yet and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a mishap sooner or later.
Ordinary World has scaled new heights since going chasing and his performances this season have been rock solid. He won his first race over fences comfortably and was thrown into Grade 2 company when not beaten far by Identity Thief. At Christmas he ran second behind Min and was ahead of subsequent Grade 1 winner Road To Respect. Better than ever in the Arkle last month, a reproduction of that effort should see him give the favourite something to think about.
Another one prone to a jumping error is Balloisin, but when staying on his feet he looks very good. In beating Townshend he was impressive but will need to improve his jumping to figure in this company. The latter has a bit to find with his Fairyhouse conquerer but won very easily last time out and is open to improvement.
Ball D’arc has mopped up some decent prizes this campaign and quite easily too. He has won two Grade 3s by a combined 34 lengths which is some going. They were all over slightly further than this though and he could only manage third at Fairyhouse at Easter, this is quite a quick turnaround and the sharper test isn’t sure to suit.
Powersbomb ran admirably at Cheltenham last time but coming out of handicap company he looks up against it. Listen Dear won six on the bounce before losing to Slowmotion last time out and in against the boys this looks tough even with her allowance.
This comes just two days after A Toi Phil’s excursions in the three mile Novice Chase and you would have to think even if he was fresh he would be up against it. Lastly Bailey Cloud does have form tying in closely with Ball D’arc and Ordinary World, he is capable of running a big race at a huge price.
7.15 Alanna Homes Mares Novice Hurdle
Barra ran her best race of the season at Cheltenham when second to Let’s Dance. I think the good ground suited her that day and with conditions similar here I think she has a great chance. She stepped up to two and half miles last time and ran well but I think this drop back to the minimum distance will pose no problems. Good Thyne Tara was only half a length behind Barra at Fairyhouse. She also boasts strong form when not beaten far by Samcro in a bumper in December, she followed that up with a comfortable win on her hurdling debut. Both of those runs were on heavy ground and that may just suit her a little bit better.
Asthuria won her seasonal debut before falling on two consecutive occasions when in with every chance. She put those errors behind her when running a very respectable fifth in the Mares Novice at Cheltenham, but based on that running she does have a bit to find with Barra. Pravalaguna was travelling well in front last time before coming to grief at the second last, but on her fourth before that she does have plenty to find with the likes of Barra and Asthuria on collateral form.
Another one who lined up at Cheltenham is Awayinthewest, she wasn’t far behind Asthuria and if she gets the run of things has definite place claims. Ringside Humour has done all of her racing on the flat for Jim Bolger and has to be respected for this top class trainer, but she has a huge task ahead of her on her first run over obstacles.
Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (5.30PM, Thursday 27th April): 2pt win Nichols Canyon (5/2 general)