AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR RACING PREVIEW: Punchestown Festival Day 2 Wednesday

A blank on day 1 with Nikini, Brazil and Classic Getaway disappointing. Here’s hoping for better on Day 2!

Ground: The ground was sound enough on Day 1, with an official description of yielding to soft. There is the possibility of 2mm of rain overnight (Monday into Tuesday). whilst tomorrow is expected to be mainly dry with showers forecast through Thursday (2-7mm of rain).

There’s seven yards of fresh ground in use on the hurdle track each day, with fresh ground on the chase course on three days of the festival.

Don’t forget to check out our Davy Russell Day 2 blog:

DAVY RUSSELL blog: Punchestown Festival Tuesday

The 2023 Punchestown Festival, Day 2
Punchestown, Kildare
First Race: 3.40pm
Last Race: 7.45pm
All races live on Racing TV HD

3.40 – Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 95-123) 2m4f (2m3f180y)

No easy start for the punters on day 2 with a host of likely contenders here and some talents claimers thrown into the mix. Unanswered looks like the right favourite here based on his Cheltenham win and strong runs at Navan and Fairyhouse afterwards, although Gavin Cromwell’s La Malmason has a fair chance on her Cork maiden win and her second to Sa Fureur last time.

Mighthy Mo Missouri has a good weight and a good claimer, but this trip could be too far and Gordon Elliott’s Level Neverending might be a bigger threat dropping back in trip. Sam Magee has disappointed the last twice here and better each/way options might be Big Debates and Gold Speed, both of whom have been given a decent chance by the handicapper.

Ballybawn Belter was a clear winner at the Dublin Racing Festival but couldn’t cut much mustard of an 8lbs higher mark at Fairyhouse last time and has something to prove here.

4.15 – Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final (4yo+) 2m4f (2m3f180y)

Sandor Clegane is a worthy favourite after his two good Grade 1 efforts, but Three Card Brag was well ahead of him when the pair last met in October (Nucky Johnson well beaten in third) and he travelled better through the Albert Bartlett before failing to see out three miles properly, unlike Sandor Clegane. This trip and track promises to suit better and at the bigger price of the two, he looks worth backing.

Senior Chief has proven his versatility over trip and ground, and he demands respect whilst Della Casa Lunga could be overpriced given her solid form in two March runs (impressive winner of Leopardstown novices’ hurdle, and third in mares’ conditions hurdle).

4.45 – Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4yo+) 2m4f (2m3f180y)

A tricky contest here. Grangeclare West’s brilliant display in November would have him winning this (13 length runner up Firm Footings is now rated 134) but his Dublin Racing Festival performance was dispiriting and he’s on a bounceback mission after that. Imagine sets a solid enough standard after his fifth in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, especially with Danny Gilligan taking 7lbs off him, and he should take some beating. Tag Man has run into three graded horses on his three hurdling starts and now gets 6lbs from his rivals which makes him a big threat, whilst Da Capo Glory can’t be discounted if one forgives his last run.

5.25 – Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m (2m7f180y)

A trio of Cheltenham runners up meet here and with the second placed horses from the Ballymore, Albert Bartlett and Pertemps meeting here and Gaelic Warrior can make a successful step upto three miles at the first time of asking. A very creditable second in the Ballymore with two Grade 1 winners in behind despite hanging and jumping right handed through the race, shaping as if extra distance – especially around this track – would do him no harm. Evidently connections think so as he runs here with Paul Townend riding and he has a lot in his favour.

Affordale Fury’s second in the Albert Bartlett reads extremely well, especially after that form was boosted by Stay Away Fay’s fourth at Aintree, and he makes more appeal than the progressive Salavador Ziggy, who was second under the 7lbs claimer Aidan Kelly in the Petemps Final when doing his best work in the run upto the line. Favori De Champdou did too much too soon in the Albert Bartlett and will like this track better if he’s more tractable, comments which apply to Embassy Gardens. Both arguably have something to prove here though on a form level.

Harry Des Ongrais, Whatcouldhavebeen, Franciscan Rock, and Kalanisi Star all need to find a lot of improvement on the figures to get involved.

5.55 – Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m (3m30y)

It’s great news that we’re treated to a rematch between Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs and King George winner Bravemansgame (second at Cheltenham) but Galopin was firmly on top at the line and it’s hard to see the form reversed.

Ryanair winner Envoi Allen was recording a near career best when beating Shishkin (below par and jumped poorly but has won Aintree Bowl since) and if he’s in that sort of form then he can go well here; some have suggested he’s now best fresh so it will be interesting to see how he handles the gap between the festivals.

Hewick was running the race of his life when he fell in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he can also run a big race here, although it’s hard to imagine him beating the front two even with a clear round. That said the quicker the ground the bigger his chances and he shouldn’t be underestimated.

Fury Road ran a fine race against Galopin Des Champs at Leopardstown in February, but he had no answer when he found overdrive and was well beaten in the Ryanair before he fell in the National. Fastorslow’s second to National winner Corach Rambler was a tremendous effort and he’s unexposed at the trip but he still has plenty of ground to find with the others.

6.30 – Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 1) (4-7yo) (2m½f (2m70y)

A Dream To Share showed guts along with class to win the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham when confirming that form with Fact To File (It’s For Me fifth, Western Diego seventh, No Time To Wait eighth, Fascile Mode thirteenth) and based on his impressive performance at the Dublin Racing Festival he should enjoy this track and trip even more and he sets a very high standard. He’d also previously beaten Rath Gaul Boy in the Summer at Tipperary on decent ground.

Tullyhill – previously a gutsy point to point winner for Colin McKeever before switching to Wille Mullins – was a very impressive winner on his rules debut at Gowran (2m2f) on Thyestes day when he didn’t come off the bridle, and it’s a big endorsement that he run here considering the strength in depth of the Mullins battalion.

Kings of Kingsfield will reportedly like better ground but he couldn’t lay a globe on Fascile Mode at Leopardstown when they met at Christmas and A Piece Of Heaven is a nice horse but has a huge amount to find here.

7.05 – HSS Hire Handicap Chase (Grade A) (5yo+) 2m5f (2m5f50y)

Ha D’or is very well treated on the basis of his 2m5f Fairyhouse win in December when he smashed The Goffer (now rated 147) by 11 lengths and this will be much more suitable than any of the runs he’s had since including the Arkle last time. Last year’s winner Royal Rendezvous is perhaps even more well handicapped after being dropped 5lbs, although it was worrying that he couldn’t show more at Fairyhouse last time and there are questions about how much ability he retains at 11. If he’s on form then he’ll obviously take the beating.

Lieutenant Command had Likedwayurthinkin four and a half lengths behind when taking a good handicap at Leopardstown and the latter is now 6lbs better off, so not much should separate them here. Andy Dufresne has disappointed this season and hasn’t exactly been crying out for this trip whilst Egality Mans, The Little Yank and Hereditary Rules have a lot to find.

7.45 – 2m½f (2m70y) Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (Grade 3) (4-7yo)

Fun Fun Fun didn’t land a blow in the Champion Bumper but it’s possible she didn’t like or handle the ground there and she will take a lot of beating on the form of her wide margin Grade 2 win at the Dublin Racing Festival. Punchestown should suit her speed and the likely better ground is in her favour to boot. Willie Mullins has the first four in the betting and Junta Marvel, a decisive winner of a Limerick bumper on debut on debut, is worth of respect under Jody Townend whilst the previous experience of Cuta Des As and Fancy Girl can help their chances.



BACK Three Card Brag 1 pt win in 4.15 Punchestown at 5/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Gaelic Warrior 2 pts win in 5.20 Punchestown at 10/11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK A Dream To Share 2 pts win in 6.30 Punchestown at 11/10 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Fun Fun Fun 2 pts win in 7.45 Punchestown at 11/8 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (APR 2023): LOSS 7.57 points



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