A place for Elusive Ivy slightly softened the blow of another loss in a photo as Bacardys nabbed Finian’s Oscar in the shadow of the post, but good to see Oli put that one up as a Daily Tip for our Community Members. But everything was put into perspective with the sad news regarding Onefordave and thoughts are with connections. Punchestown Festival Day 5 is the last day of what has been an epic Festival with some pulsating finishes and the trainers championship is going down to the wire. We’re in for a nail biting finish!
3.10 Three.ie Handicap Chase
Bless The Wings has run a couple of crackers recently in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival and then the Irish Grand National. The form of the first of those has been boosted with Cause Of Causes running second in the Aintree Grand National. He’s only up 2lb for his Irish National run which is fairly lenient and he deserves to win a race this season.
Runner up behind Native River in the Welsh National, Raz De Maree boasts some of the strongest form on offer with that. The concern is that he hasn’t completed in his last couple of starts and will firmly need to bounce back which won’t be easy carrying top weight. White Arm won very easily last time out and has been raised 8lb but still gets in here with a light racing weight on his back. Jack Kennedy is back on board and this ground should suit him and must be in with a great chance for Tony Martin.
Warrantor ran really well in a Grade 3 at Cheltenham in November behind Viconte Du Noyer who ran well here on Wednesday. Last time out he was third in the Midlands National which was a cracking run and with this ground suiting him and off a mark of 130 he is very much a player.
Courtown Oscar has finished second on his last couple of starts and may well have a bit to find to win here. Back in February last year he beat One For Arthur which is now an outstanding piece of form and if he can get back to that then he will be very hard to beat. Tulsa Jack was a gallant second last time giving away plenty of weight to the first and third and should appreciate the ground, while Sambremont is ridden by Ruby Walsh he has only completed one of his last five starts and needs to get his act together.
3.50 Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
It’s a shame that Annie Power doesn’t line up but Willie Mullins has a substitute in Karalee. She has only raced three times so we really don’t know what she is capable of, both her runs for Mullins have yielded very comfortable victories. It wouldn’t be surprising to see another Mare in the Ricci colours emerge as a future star.
Apple’s Jade showed such a willing attitude to win the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham and if anything like last year she will only get better this month. She was devastating in April last year and won at this meeting by an easy nine lengths from Let’s Dance who has franked that form on multiple occasions this season. No doubt the one to beat I would imagine this to be Gordon Elliott’s best chance of the week.
Augusta Kate and Airlie Beach step out of novice company for the first time in a bid to give Mullins another winner. The former battled well to get the better of stablemate Let’s Dance at Fairyhouse recently after not figuring in the Albert Bartlett. She may well have beaten Death Duty at Naas but for a final flight fall but will need to improve to get near the favourite. Airlie Beach has struggled on her last couple of starts and needs to drastically come back to form to stand a chance.
Of the rest Barra is up against it after underperforming here on Thursday, Whiteout has plenty to find with Apple’s Jade and Lady Buttons has won her last three but this is a completely different level.
4.25 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (Grade 1)
Many of these have been racing each other for the majority of the season with varying results. Bapaume was given a very patient ride by Ruby Walsh at Cheltenham but still couldn’t get the better of Mega Fortune. I think the run that the latter put it in was very impressive considering he was taken on for the lead by his stablemate Dinaria Des Obeaux and they went a decent clip. He stuck on really well to hold on for second and I’m sure it will be close between Bapaume and Mega Fortune again.
Landofhopeandglory didn’t look at home on heavy ground on his penultimate start and fared much better in the Triumph on a sounder surface. Back on decent ground again I can see him being back to his best and he did get the better of the top two in the market in December and isn’t one to be overlooked.
Meri Devie won fairly comfortably on her debut for the Willie Mullins yard but went on to not be up to the standard of a few of these next time out. But we haven’t seen her since so something may have gone wrong during that run and if you can forgive her for that then she is a nice price at 8/1.
Dandy Mag ran a blinder from the front last time out but Project Bluebook just got the better of him, whether that form is good enough here I doubt it and he was way back in the Triumph. Dinaria Des Obeaux has a bit to find with a few these based on a number of runs this season and On The Go Again is the 100/1 outsider and ultimately faces an impossible task.
5.00 Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (Grade B)
Sizing Codelco was extremely impressive at Aintree when bolting up by thirteen lengths and with similar conditions here could follow up. But with top weight and a mark of 11lbs higher it will be tough and he doesn’t look particularly well handicapped.
The Crafty Butcher has been somewhat of a talking horse this season regarding handicaps but hasn’t managed to win one. He has finished second and third over fences though in recent starts and in being behind Noble Endeavour he has some strong form, last time was over a trip too short so this should suit him much better.
The class angle in the race is possibly Marinero who’s last couple of runs have been in Grade 1s. He was completely outclassed at Aintree last time and back in a handicap should be seen in much better light. Seconds to Monksland and Thistlecrack were decent runs at the end of last year and off a mark of 142 with first time cheekpieces, he can be involved.
Katnap almost won the Topham last month and a reproduction of that effort off just 2lbs higher will put him right in the mix. Sandymount Duke hasn’t been seen since October on the account of the unfavourable winter ground. Even that last run was on soft and he didn’t run his race, his form over fences is good having won two from four and based on his hurdle performances, specifically close efforts behind Limini and Bellshill, he looks on a workable mark of 137 on handicap debut.
5.35 Ballymore Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)
With so many runners I can’t possibly get close to examining them all so I’ll briefly speak about a few that should hold decent claims.
Air Horse One racked up a hat-trick before a fine fourth in the County Hurdle and with Harry Fry’s yard in flying form could well be primed to run a huge race. Another British raider Geordie Des Champs bounced back to form with a solid third at the Aintree Festival and these conditions should suit him well, although a 5lb rise isn’t ideal.
Willie Mullins is mob handed and Ruby chooses Bonbon Au Miel who just managed to hang on last time out and based on form would need to find plenty of improvement. Renneti, Thomas Hobson and Diakali all won at Fairyhouse a couple of weeks ago and if things go their way they all have chances despite being high in the weights.
Scoir Mear ran a good race in the Coral Cup to finish fifth and is rated 1lb lower now, a reproduction of that would see him go close. He wasn’t far behind Automated in December and that one reopposes on 2lb better terms, he was fancied to run well in the Coral Cup but couldn’t deliver and I think he would prefer softer underfoot conditions.
Oscar Sam went off at 8/1 here in a handicap on Thursday but was brought down at the first and gets another chance. He is a brother to Our Duke and that probably tells you all you need to know, but this drop in trip won’t be ideal. Sire Du Berlais was having his first run for Gordon Elliott when third behind Mick Jazz and Cilaos Emery, that form looks strong and with improvement expected after that run he is in with every chance.
Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (5.00PM, Saturday 29th April): 1pt each way Sandymount Duke (14/1 Bet365)