Sunday 18 February 2018

€75,000 chase for punchestown

A HANDICAP chase worth €75,000 will be the centrepiece of a two-day meeting at Punchestown next week which has been organised to make up for the cancellation of nine races at the course's Festival.

Racing chiefs have announced details of the revised programme of races for the fixtures which take place on May 8 and 9.

The Grade A Aon Handicap Chase will take place next Tuesday and will be run over two miles and five furlongs. The '3' Pat Taaffe Handicap Steeplechase -- worth €45,000 and run over three miles and one furlong -- will feature on the same card.

The big race on the Wednesday will be a €25,000 handicap chase over three miles and six furlongs, while the Champion Hunters' Chase worth €22,000 will also go ahead

One horse which ran at last week's Festival that looks set to drop down to two miles next season is Rubi Light after Robbie Hennessy felt his stamina was stretched over three miles on heavy ground on Saturday.

Winner of the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase over two and a half miles in December, Rubi Light found the extra five furlongs beyond his reach when fourth to China Rock in thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup.

"I'd say it was a combination of the three-mile-one on that ground and Andrew (Lynch) just felt he was a little bit dead in himself," said the Meath handler. "We'll probably bring him back to two and a half. We probably won't even be afraid to drop him back to two."

Meanwhile, officials at Ballinrobe are hopeful the going for today's fixture won't be as testing as was encountered at Punchestown last week, and that would help Passage Vendome in the opening maiden hurdle.

Winner of a Tramore bumper, the son of Polish Summer was runner-up on his debut over obstacles, and the Willie Mullins inmate looks good enough to keep the Noel Meade-trained Six Stone Ned at bay.

The all-conquering Mullins stable also have decent prospects in the two-mile novice hurdle with Primroseandblue, but this eight-year-old might have to play second fiddle to the highly regarded Distant Memories.

Tom Taaffe's six-year-old did well to finish eighth to Cinders And Ashes in the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham, and should oblige provided he has recovered from his exertions.

Ruby Walsh is booked for just two mounts at the Mayo venue and Tony Martin's Mullaghwillin Boy looks his best chance in the two-mile handicap hurdle.

Irish Independent

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