After a thrilling finish to yesterday’s Gold Cup it is the staying hurdlers who take centre stage at Punchestown today.
Champion Stayers Hurdle
Nichols Canyon will try to emulate Sizing John by winning here and at the Cheltenham Festival. Now we know he stays, Willie Mullins’ seven year old could dominate this division as he has always had a touch of class, but he is plenty short enough in a very competitive heat that features most of the best stayers around.
We think better value lies elsewhere and not least with another Mullins runner, FOOTPAD, who tries this trip for the first time. He has been running well in top class 2m hurdle races for a while, but has always been doing his best work late on and this extra distance should really suit him.
Cheltenham runner up, LIL ROCKERFELLER, is the other one to back. He is one of the toughest and most consistent hurdlers around, and yet one of the most underrated. He ran a blinder at the Festival off of an interrupted preparation and his yard is in great form.
Clondaw Warrior and Snow Falcon are other outsiders to consider, but there are slight doubts about each’s stamina.
|Footpad (ew)||5.30 Punchestown||14/1||Paddy Power|
|Lil Rockerfeller (ew)||5.30 Punchestown||15/2||Paddy Power, Betfair|
Ryanair Novice Chase
The day’s other Grade 1 is the Ryanair Novices Chase.
With no Altior in the line-up Ordinary World represents the Arkle form and should give a good account of himself, but we like the unexposed BALLYOISIN, who should really be suited by these conditions. He could easily be three from three over fences and if he gets his act together over the obstacles he could be hard to beat.
At a massive price have a few quid each way on POWERSBOMB too. Again, he has his ground here and the drop back to 2 miles will be in his favour too.
|Ballyoisin (ew)||6.40 Punchestown||15/2||Bet365|
|Powersbomb (ew)||6.40 Punchestown||33/1||Paddy Power, Betfair|
Shamrock Enterprises Handicap Hurdle
Sandwiched in between the two Grade 1s is just about the most competitive heat of the meeting – a 28 runner, 3m handicap hurdle.
Luck in running looks sure to make play a huge part, but the ones who catch the eye are SKIPTHECUDDLES, who ran well when thrown in the deep end at Cheltenham in March, and the other English raider MINELLA AWARDS who won a good race at Sandown last time and could improve again on this ground over this trip.
Conduct Yourself and Ballyegan Hero were also on the shortlist.
|Skipthecuddles (ew)||6.05 Punchestown||25/1||Betfair|
|Minella Awards (ew)||6.05 Punchestown||10/1||Unibet|
Nick Coen Memorial Handicap Chase
There is also a competitive, big field handicap over 2m at 4.15pm, where the lady of the moment, Jessie Harrington, saddles three. We actually like the outsider of that trio, NEVERUSHACON, who has a chance of turning the Fairyhouse form around with Hurricane Ben.
Given the form of the yard and the owner it is also hard to ignore the claims of SIZING PLATINUM, who is well treated based on his best form.
Paddy Power are offering 4 places for each-way bets on this race (just 3 elsewhere).
|Neverushacon (ew)||4.15 Punchestown||22/1||Paddy Power, Betfair|
|Sizing Platinum (ew)||4.15 Punchestown||10/1||Betfair|
The La Touche Cup
The La Touche Cup follows and Cantlow is rightly a worthy favourite and should win. However, those looking for some value might want to risk an old favourite, FIRST LIEUTENANT. He would win this easily if anywhere near back to his best and it is interesting that connections continue to persevere with him. He must still be showing some of his old sparkle on the gallops.
Peter Maher saddles two here and whilst Mtada Supremes chances are obvious given his love of this place, we think his outsider RUBEN COTTER is more interesting.
Very much a good ground performer, he had some excellent form for Paul Nicholls in the past. If Maher can get him back to his best he could run well at a big price.
|First Lieutenant (ew)||4.50 Punchestown||16/1||Betfair|
|Ruben Cotter (ew)||4.50 Punchestown||22/1||Ladbrokes|
Our tips in the other races are:
|Asthuria (win)||7.15 Punchestown||5/2||Paddy Power, Betfair|
|Midnight Stroll (ew)||7.45 Punchestown||9/2||Bet365|