What a week we have had folks, we got two more winners on the board on Friday with Rapid Response (9/1) and Bob And Co (3/1) coming home in front. We will look to end on a high so check out my selections below.
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2.15 Dooley Insurance Group Cross Country Steeplechase of €14,000.00 5-y-o plus 3m. 1f.
Jessica Harrington has her team in flying form and Paddy Kennedy teams up with her runner here NEVERRUSHACON.
This horse came back to form at Wexford last time out and that could have not come at a better time as he has won over the banks before at Punchestown winning the Risk Of Thunder back in 2020.
His last three visits to Punchestown have seen him victorious on two occasions and he was second on his other start. He has very strong claims here with track and ground in his favour.
Takes all the beating.
2.50 Colm Quinn BMW Group Handicap Steeplechase (0-145) of €40,000.00 5-y-o plus 3m. 7f.
This race is going to be a dour stamina test and it could pay to go for a runner who is near the foot of the handicap with a light weight.
I am going to take a small each-way chance with the Gavin Cromwell trained ARVERNE who won well over 3m 1f here and will have a nice light weight of ten stone on his back.
He is relatively unexposed over fences and the stamina laden trip could bring out another bit of improvement. He was pulled up at Navan when last seen in March and has been off since.
He could surprise quite a few here and speculative odds.
3.20 Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) of €120,000.00 4-y-o plus 2m. 4f
Willie Mullins looks to hold all the aces in this race and the one that interests me the most is the rejuvenated STORMY IRELAND.
This mare had a spell with Paul Nicholls in the UK and went completely off the boil but a return to Closutton and she was quick to get back in the groove with a very smart victory at Fairyhouse. She got the better of French Dynamite on that occasion and that form received a nice boost when he went on to finish fourth behind Klassical Dream in the Stayers Hurdle this week.
Stormy Ireland has a bit to find with her stablemate Concertista but she comes here relatively fresh and should have improved off the back of her last run.
Will be very hard to keep out of the frame.
4.00 Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (Grade 1) of €100,000.00 4-y-o 2m.
This is simply one of the best races of the week and for me it will be ZANAHIYR who will reverse the form from Cheltenham and get himself back in the winners enclosure.
I was quite surprised with how his race at Cheltenham went as I thought he would have travelled a bit sweeter but it never materialised. He really impressed me back at Fairyhouse in November when beating Saint Sam by 14 lengths.
I think he could really appreciate this track and the ground will hopefully be ideal.
He takes the world of beating here.
4.30 Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Steeplechase (0-150) (Grade B) of €50,000.00 5-y-o plus 3m. 120yds.
The Ulster National winner FAG AN BEALACH looks a very interesting runner here at the foot of the weights with Darragh O’Keeffe aboard.
This horse looked to enjoy the stamina test last time and stayed on strongly to win by an ever widening nine lengths. She went up ten pounds in the handicap for that victory and that doesn’t look overly severe. I think now that connections know that she relishes the extra distance she could turn into a nice staying type.
This is a typically competitive handicap but she looks like she will be hard to keep out of the frame.
Solid each way shout.
5.05 BARONERACING.COM Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) of €100,000.00 4-y-o plus 2m. 4f.
This race is sponsored by ourselves at Bar One Racing and it looks an absolute cracker with plenty of talent on show.
Both Chatham Street Lad and THE SHUNTER will be racing off lower handicap marks over hurdles and they both look extremely nicely weighted.
The Shunter is the standout for me as Emmet Mullins has chosen Mark Walsh to ride and he comes here off the back of a very unlucky run at Aintree where he just wasn’t foot perfect over his fences.
He was electric the time before at Cheltenham under Jordan Gainford and if he can produce anything like that over hurdles then he takes plenty of stopping.
His victory in the “Morebattle” Hurdle at Kelso was stamina sapping so 2m 4f here should be right up his street.
Looks the class angle to the race and can hopefully prove that.
5.40 Colm Quinn BMW Group Mares Handicap Hurdle of €20,000.00 4-y-o plus 2m. 4f.
MERRY POPPINS was a mare I kept a close eye on when she ran at Cork last time out and of she can improve off the back of that run then she could go close here.
That was her second attempt in a handicap and she drops back in trip here and that looks sure to suit. She travels strongly in her races and I think she will get a nice toe into this and hopefully come home with a late burst.
This is a typical competitive handicap but I think she could have a nice weight and could give us a good run for our money.
Hard to keep out of the frame.
6.10 Buggyman (Pro/Am) Flat Race of €10,000.00 4/7-y-o 2m.
We end the Festival with a bumper and as normal the top yards are all represented. I mentioned in Fridays preview that Martin Brassil and Derek O’Connor like to team up for a Punchestown bumper winner and going on market vibes on Friday I thought we had a chance but it didn’t work out that way.
The combination team up again here with GOLDEN WONDER’S and he could be a very smart recruit. There is not much form to go on in this race so market vibes might tell all. The overnight market has nibbled at Golden Wonder’s so it will be interesting to see will he shorten much more on Saturday.
Will hopefully get us another winner to end what has been an excellent Punchestown Festival on a high.