Folks, we are off the all-weather and back over the larger obstacles, and what a week of racing we have in store!
Scroll down and check my selections for Day One of the magnificent 5-day Punchestown Festival.
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Firstly, DON’T FORGET that we will be BOOSTING THE PRICE of the FAV on the LIVE SHOWS in EVERY RACE at the PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL!
3.40 Say Yes To Organ Donation Novice H’cp Hdl 4-y-o plus of €20,000.00 . 2m. 100yds.
Paul Flynn’s horses have been running well this past week or so and this could just be coming at the right time.
He teams up here with Denis O’Regan aboard CLEVER CURRENCY who was a very impressive winner of a maiden hurdle at Limerick back on 15th April. He made all on that occasion and quickened clear in the style of a horse who looks to have found out what the game is all about.
He had finished second to Ya Ya Baby the time before that and they will reoppose here. He will be making his handicap debut this time around but, if they adopt positive tactics here again, then they have no better man on board than Denis O’Regan to get the fractions correct.
It is a very competitive race to start the Punchestown Festival but he looks to have a solid each-way chance and could be hard to keep out of the frame.
4.15 eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champ. Nov. Hdl (Grade 1) 5-y-o plus of €100,000.00 . 2m. 100yds.
This race has really cut up in recent days and, when declarations were announced on Sunday, it revealed that Willie Mullins holds an extremely strong hand with the top two in the market.
Echoes In Rain is improving at a rate of knots but she might have her hands full here to keep her stablemate BLUE LORD at bay. Given that Echoes In Rain can be a little keen in her races, this could turn very tactical.
Blue Lord pulled far too hard when he finished second on heavy ground behind Bob Olinger in the Lawlors Of Naas Hurdle but has since backed that up with a nice run at Leopardstown over Christmas where he was six lengths behind Appreciate It and was likely going to be second in the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham before he tipped up at the last.
This will be Paul Townend’s return to the saddle after injury and there is no doubt he will looking to extend his lead in the jockeys’ title-race and this horse could well oblige for him.
I think Blue Lord will take all the beating.
4.50 Killashee Hotel H´cap H´dle (Grade B) 4-y-o plus of €50,000.00 . 2m. 100yds.
Willie Mullins again holds a strong hand in this race and the one that interests me most of his seven in the field is RUAILLE BUAILLE who will be ridden by Danny Mullins.
This mare caught my eye when she finished midfield behind Heaven Help Us at the Dublin Racing Festival and, as we all saw at Cheltenham, that form got boosted as Heaven Help Us went on and landed the Coral Cup.
Ruaille Buaille was hampered by a faller and then just looked as if she didn’t see out the 2m 2f trip and weakened close home. She improved off the back of that at Fairyhouse over Easter, again catching the eye when staying on strongly behind Hearts Are Trumps.
I think she could be the type to improve again and the better ground will surely be in her favour.
Given luck in running, she will be tough to keep out of the frame.
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5.25 Champion S´chase (Grade 1) 5-y-o plus of €250,000.00 . 2m.
Another race dominated by Willie Mullins and the main question here will be whether Allaho will be suited by the step down in trip. He is a very classy individual and impressed at Cheltenham but I just think that his stablemate CHACUN POUR SOI will have too much class and speed for him on this occasion.
I was disappointed by Chacun Pour Soi in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham as I thought he would pick up after the last but it never materialised and he ultimately finished third to Put The Kettle On.
He is, though, a course-and-distance winner and I think Punchestown will be much more to his liking. That course-and-distance victory was his second start for the Closutton team and he was electric under Robbie Power back in 2019.
If he is back even close to the form he showed at the Dublin Racing Festival, or even at Christmas, he will take the world of beating here.
Will be the nap of the day for me.
5.55 Goffs Land Rover Bumper 4/5-y-o of €100,000.00 . 2m. 100yds.
This bumper is normally a very good race to watch for future reference as plenty of winners will likely come out of it.
The booking of Derek O’Connor aboard the Margaret Mullins-trained SPRINGWELL BAY catches the eye and it will be very interesting to see what the market says about this one overnight and during the afternoon on Tuesday.
He is by Kayf Tara and will no doubt be looking for nice ground as much of that stallion’se progeny have form on better ground conditons.
It is, though, a tricky race to try and solve and I would suggest a small each-way play here, but keep an eye on the market as it could throw up some clues as to the eventual winner.
6.30 3m½f (3m120y) Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+)
This race looks to be one of the races of the week with the meeting of Monkfish and Envoi Allen.
With much of the focus surrounding the big two I think COLREEVY might just go unnoticed and catch the top two off guard and take the pot herself. She has been covered by Walk In The Park since her victory in the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and her owners have said that this will be her final race.
While her stamina could be a question mark, she was very game at Cheltenham to get the better of Elimay and I didn’t think she had any stamina issues on that occasion. She will be stepping up to 3m on nice ground and, while most of her winning has been on softer conditions, I still think she is a major player.
She was a length second when coming down at the last in her Point-to-Point at Lemonfield back in 2017 and that was on nice ground and over three miles. She will get a seven-pound weight allowance against the top two in the market and that for me is what could make all the difference.
She looks too big in the market and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if, so to speak, she caused a shock.
7.00 3m1f (Bank) Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup (5yo+)
Enda Bolger is the king of training horses for Cross Country and Banks races and he looks to have a very strong contender here in YOUCANNOTBESERIOUS, who is owned by JP Mc Manus and will be ridden by Derek O’Connor.
This horse hasn’t been seen since finishing second in this race back in 2019 and, while the 728-day layoff may be a small concern, I think he will simply have too much class for the opposition.
He is a very lightly-raced nine-year-old who is obviously a little fragile, but if he can come back to some of the form he has shown in the past then he will be very hard to beat.
I would keep an eye on the market but odds-against will look value and I would be happy to play at that.
7.35 2m½f (2m100y) Irish Field – We Are All About The Horse INH Flat Race (4yo)
The final race on Day One of the festival is another tricky bumper puzzle but the one that catches my eye is the Denise Foster-trained WHATCOLOURISTHEWIND, who will be ridden by Jamie Codd.
This filly by Shirocco will be getting a seven-pound weight allowance and that could just make the difference in what looks a very competitive end to the card.
There is plenty of stamina in the pedigree and she will likely need further in time but I think you could take the chance she could be streetwise enough to be in contention here.
Much like the Goffs Land Rover Bumper earlier on the card, the market will tell us plenty.
This filly will be hard to keep out of the frame with luck in running.