HORSE RACING

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STAR PREVIEW Weds: Punchestown Festival | Day Two

A mixed opening day for the selections, as Grangee ran no sort of race and Sir Gerhard appeared to be below form, for all that Mighty Potter would have taken some beating. Capodanno was right on form however, taking advantage of some below par showings from his rivals, including (unfortunately) Bob Olinger, who appeared to struggle with his breathing. Hopefully we see Henry De Bromhead’s charge back to his best next season, presumably after wind surgery.

Energumene was a deeply impressive winner of the Champion Chase, beating Chacun Pour Soi fair and square after an enjoyable duel – a rematch with Shishkin, assuming both were fit and well, could be some thrill.

Our brand ambassador Davy Russell had the perfect start to proceedings with an impressive victory on Party Central – and can read his thoughts on today’s rides by clicking the link below:

DAVY RUSSELL Weds: Punchestown Wednesday

The 2022 Punchestown Festival, Day 2
Punchestown, Kildare
First Race: 3.40pm
Last Race: 7.45pm
All races live on Racing TV HD

The race of the day – and the week – is the Gold Cup (5.55) where the best the staying scene has to offer bar A Plus Tard is on show. Allaho is stepping back up in trip, having dominated the middle-distance chasing scene for the last two seasons, and if in the same form here then he’ll take a huge amount of beating.

He looks a stronger horse than the one who has just failed to see this trip out fully in the past – and this course ought to suit him as well – but this is a step up in class as well as trip, and there’s the possibility that Paul Townend is likely to face a more pace pressure on the front end here than he has all season from an early position.

As a 7/4 favourite at the time of writing, Allaho also makes the market in such a deep race, and the percentage call here is to oppose him with one of the more established stayers. The percentage call is Minella Indo, last year’s Gold Cup winner who was back to something like that form when a distant second to A Plus Tard in this year’s renewal (Al Boum Photo sixth, Tornado Flyers That was another fine effort at the Cheltenham Festival and also a significant improvement on his Irish Gold Cup second, when he bounced back from a dire showing in the King George when things didn’t go his way.

He’ll probably have to improve on that effort here but his record tells us that he’s a spring horse (and a past festival winner here over hurdles) and if a first first-time tongue-tie improves his finishing effort then he should have a major part to play today.

Clan Des Obeaux got the better of Al Boum Photo in this last season and arrives here after an excellent performance to take the Betway Bowl at Aintree. He’s a huge threat to all on that form and the most feared danger bar Allaho, whilst Galvin is also a big threat – although things happened a bit quickly for him in the Gold Cup and he’d want plenty of pace early on here to avoid the same thing here.

Of the rest, Fakir D’oudaries is a wonderful horse but he didn’t stay when third in this last year and this renewal is even tougher, Janidil is an admirable horse but he’s been beaten in all his Grade 1 starts since taking what used to be the Powers Gold Cup last year, and 2019 Gold Cup winner Kemboy was beaten fair and square at Aintree by Clan Des Obeaux.

King George winner Tornado Flyer was outstandingly ridden when taking the King George, as Danny Mullins benefitted from an overly strong pace there, and he can’t be ruled out if the leaders overdo it today, for all that he may also want some rain to arrive.

The Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (5.20) is packed with talent and even if one doesn’t have a bet, it’s absolutely worth watching for future clues. The Nice Guy’s romp in the Albert Bartlett over Minella Cocooner sets a high standard but Minella Crooner (second to Minella Cocooner at the Dublin Racing Festival) looked to be crying for a step back upto 3 miles that day, and one can’t forget that Journey With Me (looked set for third) got the better of him at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

It would be unwise to rule our Daily Present and Bronn (who arguably should be reversed in the market) an Bardenstown Lad can improve his jumping too – all things considered, this could be a watching brief.

The Champion Bumper (6.30) sees a rematch between Cheltenham 1-2 Facile Vega and American Mike, with Facile Vega fancied to confirm the form. An interesting each/way contender is Redemption Day, who was deeply impressive at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting before not handling the extremely testing ground (or the big occasion according to connections.)

His reported temperament issues are a worry, but if he’s more grown up for that experience then he’d be an interesting each/way player on his Leopardstown win, when he didn’t come off the bridle to beat the subsequent winner Music Drive (eighth at Cheltenham, and a winner against Sandor Clegane in February). 9/1 seems a fair price considering that he went off 7/1 for the Champion Bumper, and he could prove that Cheltenham effort all wrong.

Bumper fans are in heaven as the Mares get their chance to shine in the closing race (7.45) and Dorans Weir could send favourite backers home happy. She’s reverted to bumpers from hurdles and hasn’t looked back since, winning easily at Thurles before finishing second to subsequent Albert Bartlett winner The Nice Guy at Leopardstown, and getting the better of the reopposing Pink In The Park in a Fairyhouse Listed event earlier this month.

That’s extremely strong form and a repeat of that will make her hard to beat, for all that this is a competitive race with plenty of chances.

Elsewhere on the card, Freedom To Dream has been running brilliantly all season and should take some stopping in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final for Kevin Sexton and Peter Fahey (4.15). It’s a competitive contest, but anyone of his four hurdle runs could be called the standout in this field and it should take a big effort to beat him. Choice Of Worlds, who was second to Journey With Me at Naas before disappointing at Cheltenham,

The Grade A Handicap Chase (7.05) looks well upto scratch but it will be hard to beat Ciel De Neige off a fine racing weight, whilst Snugsborough Hall would be interesting if getting a clear run, which he did not get in this last year, or when hampered in the Topham.

If he’s over his fine Aintree run then Nicky Henderson’s Fils D’oudaries should take a lot oof beating in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4.45) in a race where the home contingent have plenty of questions to answer. If back to his best, Largy Debut would be the most interesting of them.

The Ardare Manor Opportunity Series Final (3.40) sees plenty in with chances and the most appealing of them is Midnight It Is, although he’s one of several you could make a case for.

Flat fans have an excellent card at Ascot to enjoy, where we’ll see some Royal Ascot hopefuls attempt to book tickets to the big meeting. The two-year-old conditions trial (2.25), and the fillies conditions race (3.00), and the Sagaro (3.35) are of particular interest.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI


RECOMMENDED BETS

BACK Freedom To Dream 1 pt win in 4.15 Punchestown at 5/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Minella Indo 1 pt win in 5.55 Punchestown at 5/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Redemption Day 1 pt each/way in 6.30 Punchestown at 9/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Dorans Weir 1 pt win in 7.45 Punchestown at 10/3 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


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