I had a good spin from Sky Marshall who was third in the first division of the maiden hurdle at Naas on Saturday – he continues to be going the right way but the winner Emily Moon wasn’t for catching and looks well above average.
Moving on to Punchestown on Sunday.
1.45pm P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase
Should be quite a spectacle to kick start Sunday’s card with 16 runners over the cross country fences in what is clearly a big trial for the Cheltenham version next month. I don’t have a ride but the two to concentrate on for me are Josies Orders who was pipped in this last year before going on to win here at the Punchestown Festival in April. He’s a cross country veteran and specialist but Ballycasey seemed to enjoy his first taste of cross country fences at Cheltenham last December and has been back there since for another spin. He looks the biggest danger to the favourite.
CHOSEN MATE (2.20pm I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle Listed Race)
He’s a former point to point winner and a gelding that we think quite a lot of at home and he got off to a good start over hurdles when winning at Fairyhouse the last day. He had the field nicely spread out but picks up a penalty for that win and this is obviously much tougher. He’s trained by Gordon (Elliott) who also saddles Tintangle who is a smart mare who now has cheek pieces on for the first time. She hasn’t done a lot wrong so far. Another big danger is the Willie Mullins trained Prince D’Aubrelle who also has a penalty to defy and he’s back after an absence.
LETHAL STEPS (2.50pm Punchestown Festival Ticket Deal Discount Maiden Hurdle)
Lethal Steps runs in the colours of the Cheveley Park Stud and he was a promising second to Konitho last time out. The winner let the form down a little at Naas on Saturday. However, Lethal Steps still looks progressive and we’ll learn a lot more about him here. There’s also plenty of personal interest for me here as Acronym was bred by my father! He hasn’t shown his bumper form over hurdles yet but it would be no surprise to see him bounce back from a down the field run at Leopardstown over Christmas and put in a better effort.
3.20pm David Trundley Artist At Punchestown Handicap Hurdle)
No ride here and it looks wide open. The interesting one for me is Treacysenniscorthy who caught the eye the last day at Navan when fifth to Askari. He looks progressive and it would be no surprise to see him turn the tables on Wee Small Hours who finished third.
3.50pm Richard Maher Memorial Rated Novice Chase
Gordon’s Monatomic got off the mark over fences at Down Royal in January but this looks a much stiffer challenge. It looks open, despite the small field and it would be no surprise to see Impact Factor run well as I fancy he is a little better than what he has shown to date.
DOUNIKOS (4.20pm BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase)
Big race of the day and Gordon has a strong entry of six runners as he bids to follow up Folsom Blue’s win in this last year. I’m on Dounikos who was still mixing it before falling two out in the Thyestes and is now up in trip. His overall form has tapered off a bit and we need to start seeing him finish off his races. There’s no doubting his class as he won at Grade 2 level last season. These are always tough puzzles to solve but I think a big danger could be General Principle who is very consistent and should appreciate the extra distance.
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