AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR RACING PREVIEW: Punchestown Festival and Sandown

The 2023 Punchestown Festival, Day 5 & Jumps Finale at Sandown
All Races Live on Racing TV
Live on ITV 1 HD / ITV X from 2.50pm

We say goodbye to the jumps season today in spectacular style with the final day of the Punchestown Festival and the official UK finale at Sandown offering something for everyone with graded action and big handicaps across both cards!

The Bet365 Gold Cup – or the Whitbread if you’re old enough! – is the feature betting race at Sandown where Coolvalla makes appeal. He’s been mainly flawless over fences this season bar a blowout in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham (easily forgiven) and he showed plenty of guts to get the better of Revels Hill at Exeter over 3m6f, with the pair well clear. A 5lbs rise for that is fair, he jumps soundly and the ground’s not a worry, so at a bigger price than Revels Hills he makes the most appeal.

Scottish National winner Kitty’s Light has a big chance here although this is a very quick turnaround and that would be the main worry for him along with possible jumping errors to worry about as well.

Last season’s Bet365 Gold Cup winner Hewick was running a fine race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when falling two out and if he’s over that spill then he’ll take all the beating the in the Oaksey Chase (2.50). He’s got 10lbs in hand on ratings here and whilst some might worry about the ground for him, it was soft at Cheltenham and he went fine through the race, and a warm day should ensure the surface is OK for him. Shark Hanlon’s poor form might be the only worry, but just one of his runners since the 15th has been shorter than 14/1 and this is a different case.

It’s fascinating that Jonbon is graduating to open company in the Celebration Chase (1.40), and whilst he’s got the most career progression left to give of the five runners, 11/10 feels short about him taking on Greaneteen, Captain Guinness and particularly Editeur du Gite, who could dominate this small field. It would be unwise to rule out Funambule Sivola too.

Any number of contenders make appeal for the EBF Novices’ Championship, with Iberico Lord just edging the vote over the Paul Nicholls pairing of Beau Balko and Killaloan, Hudson de Grugy would just be the choice in the Josh Gifford Novices’ Handicap Chase (3.25).

The Select Hurdle (4.00) is a fascinating race with all five having a shout, and maybe Thyme Hill could be the one at these weights, returned to hurdling although Goshen is returning to a right-handed track. End the season with a winner, as Imperial Cup winner Iceo has a fine chance on that form in the closing handicap hurdle (4.35). Going up in trip should be no problem for him and Thursday’s rain will have improved his chances greatly.

This season has been dominated by Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who can take the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown (5.00) with Lossiemouth, who can beat Gala Marceau and Zarak The Brave again here after her impressive Triumph win. Enjoy The Dream,who got the better of Blood Destiny in impressive style at Fairyhouse last time, could be each/way value here as she should only improve on that effort.

The Mares’ Hurdle (3.50) is a rematch – Honeysuckle aside – of the Cheltenham contest where Love Envoi heads the market after her fine runner up finish there. She’ll go well again but she got a very canny ride there on softer ground than she’ll face today and this track and ground could be better for Echoes In Rain, who’s now the choice of Paul Townend here.

There won’t be much between the main contenders today, but this could suit her best, with Brandy Love better going left handed whilst Epatante has something to prove

The Fitzwilliam Handicap Hurdle (5.30) is one of the most competitive chances of the week with many top handicappers going into battle and perhaps An Epic Song could gain compensation for his heroic second in the Coral Cup. He was just beaten by the well plotted Langer Dan that he’s gone up only 2lbs and should be seriously involved again.

The opening Cross Country Chase (2.35) can go to Hurricane Darwin, who has improved since winning this last season (beat Stealthy Tom that day). A winner over hurdles and fences since, he’s run with real credit at Gowran the last twice, taking second in a competitive handicap chase and then third in the Webster Cup. He retains all his ability based on that and he comes here fresher than Three by Two, who beat La Touche winner Vital Island over these banks on Tuesday.

Those playing in the placepot are encouraged to look at My Design, Sir Bob, and Velvet Elvis long distance Colm Quinn BMW Handicap Chase (3.10), whilst Flegmatik has the best last time out form in the Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (4.25), although he appears to be a Kempton specialist and few horses made major appeal in that contest.



BACK Coolavalla 1 pt win in 2.15 Sandown at 8/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Hurricane Darwin 1 pt win in 2.35 Punchestown at 11/4 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Hewick 3 pts win in 2.50 Sandown at 6/5 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Echoes In Rain 1 pt win in 3.50 Punchestown at 7/4 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Iceo 2 pts win in 4.35 Sandown at 2/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK An Epic Song 1 pt win in 5.30 Punchestown at 6/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (APR 2023): PROFIT 3.05 points



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