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Punchestown Festival 2018 – Day 1 Tips

Decent ground has been a rarity in Ireland this winter, but we could get something close to it on day one of the Punchestown Festival providing the showers stay away from the Naas circuit.

Herald Champion Novice Hurdle     

The first big race of the week is the Champion Novice Hurdle and, as with most of the big races during the Festival, there are plenty of runners from the Mullins and Elliott yards that are battling for the trainers’ crown.

Mullins has the favourite here in Getabird, but will he be as effective on decent ground over this minimum trip?

For us, the value undoubtedly lies with PALOMA BLUE who is sure to enjoy conditions and who ran well at the meeting last year in the Champion Flat Race. He also ran a blinder in the Supreme to finish fourth on unsuitably heavy ground and has man of the moment, Davy Russell, to help him from the saddle.

For some reason we also want to recommend BEYOND THE LAW. He is a crazy prize, but we really think he is a horse to follow and it is interesting to see him dropped so markedly in trip. It is a shame there aren’t more runners so we could get four places, but Mouse Morris certainly knows the time of day and doesn’t tend to run no hopers in big races.

Cartwright is another outsider with potential.

Paloma Blue (ew)4.20 Punchestown 11/2Paddy Power
Beyond The Law (ew)4.20 Punchestown100/1Bet365


All odds quoted are subject to change

BoyleSports Champion Chase     

There are two other Grade 1s on the card, the pick of which is one of the races of the week – the Champion Chase.

Mullins throws three of his big guns at the prize, but it is possible to pick small holes in all three. Of the trio, we like Min the best, but he did have a hard race at Aintree less than a fortnight ago.

Douvan, meanwhile, was travelling oh so sweetly when falling at Cheltenham, but still has to prove his flop in the 2017 Queen Mother was a one off, whilst Un Des Sceaux surely needs further and softer ground these days.

In the hope that there is to be a shock, we think it’s worth backing SPECIAL TIARA and ORDINARY WORLD each way. The former finally has his ground for the first time this season, whilst his stablemate caught the eye in this year’s Queen Mother before fading at the death in the heavy ground.

Special Tiara (ew)5.30 Punchestown28/1Paddy Power
Ordinary World (ew)5.30 Punchestown 33/1Bet365


All odds quoted are subject to change

Growise Champion Novice Chase    

The other Grade 1 is the Champion Novices Chase where Henry de Bromhead could continue to upstage Messrs Elliott and Mullins as Monalee looks to have a favourite’s chance.  However, we think FINIAN’S OSCAR is the value, provided Robbie Power can get him jumping early on.

The further he went the better he looked at Aintree last time out and this return to three miles should suit.

Best of the Mullins / Elliott runners could prove to be JURY DUTY who didn’t last home in the National Hunt Chase on his most recent start. He could be one of those most suited by the drying conditions.

Finian’s Oscar (ew)6.40 Punchestown10/1Ladbrokes
Jury Duty (ew)6.40 Punchestown14/1Bet365


All odds quoted are subject to change

Killashee Handicap Hurdle     

The day’s big betting heat is the handicap hurdle at 4.55pm where last year’s winner, WESTERN BOY, could easily go in again. Having tipped him that day we can’t desert him here, and the ground looks to be coming right for him. His last run, which was on the flat, was encouraging too and he tends to run well off of a break.

The big danger could be JOEY SASSA for the in-form Noel Meade. He too ran well on the level last time out and a fourth in the Galway Plate prior to that showed he can handle the hustle and bustle of a big field.

The unexposed Ten Ten was also on the shortlist, whilst don’t be surprised if there is a revival at big odds from one of Joseph O’Brien’s runners, but it is another De Bromhead horse, HIGH SCHOOL DAYS, who looks the pick of the outsiders. She has had no luck on her last two starts and drops in grade here with a big race surely in her.

Western Boy (ew)4.55 Punchestown14/1Bet365
Joey Sassa (ew)4.55 Punchestown 12/1Bet365
High School Days (ew)4.55 Punchestown 40/1Paddy Power


All odds quoted are subject to change

Goffs Land Rover Bumper    

Finally, in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper do chuck a few quid at the O’Brien runner, GLOCCA MORA, who is nicely bred and has the excellent Derek O’Connor on board.

Glocca Mora (ew)6.05 Punchestown 9/1Sportingbet


All odds quoted are subject to change