The Punchestown Festival gets underway this afternoon and although injuries to Don Cossack and Thistlecrack have robbed the event of two of its stars, there will be plenty of other equine talent on display between now and Saturday.
Today is a good case in point, with both Yorkhill and Vautour putting their already huge reputations on the line.
Despite their very short prices, there are good reasons to consider taking both on at the end of what has been a long, hard season for the Willie Mullins pair.
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
First up is Yorkhill in the Champion Novice Hurdle and the doubts about him stem from his slightly lacklustre performance at Aintree last time out. He did win that day, but made hard work of it. The drop in trip should suit as he tends to race keenly, but he might be vulnerable if any of his rivals can raise their game. We are going to suggest taking him on with DON’T TOUCH IT and BRAIN POWER.
Both have shown a liking for this better ground and are relatively fresh, and their handlers have excellent records at this meeting.
|Don’t Touch It (ew)||4.20 Punchestown||28/1||Sky Bet, William Hill|
|Brain Power (ew)||4.20 Punchestown||33/1||Sky Bet, William Hill|
Boylesports Champion Chase
Vautour might be even more vulnerable in the Champion Chase, as the drop in trip is a slight unknown. He has plenty of pace, but his jumping going right handed hasn’t always been the best and with some crack two milers in opposition he can’t afford too many mistakes.
SPECIAL TIARA and GODS OWN both look better value with conditions in their favour.
Betfair are offering new customers enhanced odds of 4/1 on Vautour here.
|Special Tiara (ew)||5.30 Punchestown||11/2||Sky Bet, Betfair|
|Gods Own (ew)||5.30 Punchestown||12/1||Bet365|
Growise Champion Novice Chase
The other big race is the Champion Novice Chase and there can’t have been too many Grand National winners who have run in a novices chase just a few weeks after their big triumph!
It is a surprise to see Rule The World here as his connections had talked about retiring him in the aftermath of the big one. Let’s hope he comes back safe and sound, but he is hard to fancy and we think this could be one for the British trainers as HENRYVILLE has solid claims on ground he likes.
Harry Fry does well with his Irish raiders and this one comes here a fresh horse.
With nine going to post, the bookies will be paying out on three places, so also have a small interest in BALLYCHORUS, who is a talented mare when she gets her jumping act together.
|Henryville (ew)||6.40 Punchestown||9/2||Paddy Power|
|Ballychorus (ew)||6.40 Punchestown||12/1||Bet365, Paddy Power|
Goffs Land Rover Bumper
The Brits have strong claims in the first of two bumpers as well courtesy of Jenkins, but one or both of the Jessica Harrington runners could make the frame at more rewarding odds.
LOUPGAROU looks the first string on jockey booking, whilst ALLARDYCE is also worth an interest having been a close second on his debut 6 weeks ago when the rest of the field were strung out miles behind him.
|Loupgarou (ew)||6.05 Punchestown||40/1||Bet365|
|Allardyce (ew)||6.05 Punchestown||33/1||Ladbrokes|
Donohue Marquees Flat Race
Harrington’s runner in the last, SOMEDAY, is also nicely bred and could represent some each way value.
|Someday (ew)||7.15 Punchestown||13/2||BetVictor|
Killashee Handicap Hurdle
Finally, there is a competitive handicap hurdle at 4.55pm to get stuck into.
Automated nearly pulled off a nice win for us in the final race of the Grand National meeting and must have a strong chance of going one better here.
However, with such a big field there could be plenty of well handicapped horses ready to cause a shock and the ones we like at bigger prices are ELMONO, who had some decent form in France before joining his current yard, KAPSTADT, who will relish any further drying of the ground and who had a nice pipe opener for this on the flat recently and SEVEN NATION ARMY, who surely has more to offer over hurdles than he has shown so far.
Bet365 are offering 5 places for each-way bets on this race.
|Elmono (ew)||4.55 Punchestown||40/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|
|Kapstadt (ew)||4.55 Punchestown||25/1||Bet365, Paddy Power|
|Seven Nation Army (ew)||4.55 Punchestown||22/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|