DAVY RUSSELL: Punchestown Saturday

Looking forward to a massive weekend of racing. There’s top quality jumps racing both at home and Cheltenham. I’m staying in Ireland for two days at Punchestown.

Highlight on Sunday is the Morgiana Hurdle and I’m delighted to have been asked to ride Samcro (pictured). We’re very much on a weather watch though as Gordon (Elliott) has stated we need to see some more rain for him to take his chance. Fingers crossed.

More on Samcro and Sunday’s other rides in my next blog which will be published on Saturday evening. For now though, Saturday’s racing where I have six booked rides.

First, a quick word on the feature BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. It’s hugely competitive but I’ll be keeping a close eye on Mister Whitaker who looks to be still improving and seems to go particularly well here. He was a game winner of the Close Brothers at the Festival and over the same trip here should run another big race.

SATURDAY

PUNCHESTOWN

BLACK NOAH (12.05pm)

Mitchouka was very impressive when winning this last year for me by 15 lengths and I’d be surprised to see a runaway winner this year as it looks very open with very little form to go on. I haven’t done any work on my fella who is fit from three runs on the flat and has shown some promise. As ever with this kind of race, we’ll know a bit more about what we’ve got after the race.

MALL DINI (12.35pm)

I’ve no idea how he’s still a maiden over fences as he’s run some massive races, most notably when second to Missed Approach in the Kim Muir at the Festival when he went down fighting by half a length. If anything, he’s over qualified now for a beginners chase and hopefully he’ll be forward enough on his first start since pulling up in the Irish Grand National.

HARDLINE (1.10pm Betway Craddockstown Novice Chase)

Made a really pleasing start over fences the last day at Fairyhouse and this looks the obvious next step for him. It was good ground that day and with similar forecast on Saturday it should certainly suit him again. He was very consistent over hurdles and looks to have taken to the bigger obstacles well too. It’s a good renewal with the Willie Mullins pair looking the obvious dangers.

COMMANDER OF FLEET (1.45pm)

Looks a lovely prospect and has ticked plenty of boxes already by winning a point to point and a bumper in tremendous style here back in April. Hopefully we’ll see the same kind of progression for his hurdles debut as he is an exciting prospect. We’ll get a much better feel for his ideal trip after this but given his point to point win he shouldn’t be lacking in stamina and hopefully he’ll get off the mark before going on to bigger races.

LACKANEEN LEADER (2.20pm)

She’s an absolutely lovely mare and is back again after a superb season where her form only dropped on her final start when pulled up in the Grade 1 novice hurdle at the Festival here. She’s versatile ground wise and is good in herself but starts off in quite deep company where again Willie Mullins has two strong contenders in Good Thyne Tara and Stormy Ireland.

STAR MAKER (2.55pm)

I thought the form of his Downpatrick win was solid so it was therefore disappointing he couldn’t build on that the last day when he was a little disappointing at Galway. It might be the hike in his handicap mark has been too tough but he should love the faster ground here and hopefully we’ll see an improved effort.

DAVY


YOUR SAY

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