AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

DAVY RUSSELL: Punchestown Tuesday

Sadly, as mentioned in last week’s blog, there will be no Punchestown Festival for me this year. It was a close thing as I feel great and have been riding out plenty, but it has just come too soon. Riding horses of the quality of Envoi Allen just wasn’t an option if I wasn’t 100% fit and I’m not there yet. I’m not far away mind you, but just not there. I’ll plan my comeback at a less high-profile meeting on a less high-profile horse. Anyway, I’ll be at the track to see him in the flesh as I’m doing some work for RTE. As for Punchestown itself, it will be strange having a meeting like this, where the atmosphere is usually electric, behind closed doors. It’s great that we are racing though, and we must remind ourselves of that now. The conditions will be perfect, and you have to congratulate the track who have done a grand job watering. It promises to be a special week and here are my thoughts on some of the opening day’s races…

TUESDAY

PUNCHESTOWN

4.15pm (Ecomm Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle)

Only the five runners for the first Grade One of the week where Willie (Mullins) holds all the aces saddling both Echoes In Rain (pictured below) and Blue Lord. My preference would be for the mare Echoes In Rain who has looked really good since the switch in tactics to holding her up. She beat Belfast Banter by eight lengths in a Grade Two in Naas back in February and that form looks rock solid now. Another plus for her would be the 7lbs allowance and she’ll be hard to beat. Stablemate Blue Lord will make a race of it though as he was booked for second when crashing out at the last in the Supreme Novices in Cheltenham the last day.

4.50pm (Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle)

A typically competitive handicap hurdle with plenty of runners and some old friends. Wonder Laish is very good on his day while the likes of Tudor City is dangerous to dismiss just 2lbs higher than the mark from which he won the Galway Hurdle a few years back. Whiskey Sour hasn’t been seen on track for a few years but he’s another who could be well handicapped. I thought Magic Tricks ran a hell of a race in Fairyhouse the last day where he was just caught out by his own inexperience. He should go close again if he’s learnt enough from that run. Don’t forget that was only his fifth race under rules.

5.25pm (William Hill Champion Chase)

I suppose all eyes will be on Allaho to see if he can back up his monstrous Cheltenham performance here over a shorter trip. He’d have won over any distance the last day but may just have some competition for the lead here from the likes of First Flow. If that’s the case, they could easily set the race up for the closers like Chacun Pour Soi and English raider Nube Negra. It promises to be a classic and I’d just take a chance with Chacun Pour Soi (pictured below) to get back to winning ways.

6.30pm (Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase)

The race everyone has been talking about and desperate to see is finally on. Envoi Allen (pictured below) against Monkfish. There is also the mare Coolreevy and Franco De Port to make up the rest of the field. Both my head and heart says Envoi Allen. Listen, what happened in Cheltenham was just one of those things. A silly little mistake that cost him, but luckily he’s grand after it. I’ve spoken to Henry (De Bromhead) a few times since and they seem really happy with him. He was just a bit too fresh in Cheltenham and I don’t think the change of stables so close to the race helped him. He’s had time to settle in now and I’m pretty sure we will see the old Envoi Allen do his thing here. He’ll have to be on his A-game though to beat the horse of the quality of Monkfish. He wasn’t at his best in Cheltenham but still got the job done, that’s always the sign of a good horse. It promises to be a cracker.

7.00pm (Ladies Perpetual Cup)

Finally, I had to finish with a word on the old boy Enniskillen who lines up at the age of 16. It will be ten years since he first ran at this meeting and it’s terrific to see him still loving the game. He’s got horses in here ten years his junior so it will be no easy task. Enda Bolger is a master trainer over these bank fences and his Youcannotbeserious catches the eye with Derek O’Connor booked to ride.

Good Luck
Davy


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