Sport Horse Racing

Monday 27 January 2020

Here is who Ireland's top tipsters are backing on day one at Punchestown


Richard Forristal

Only time will tell how much of an impact Willie Mullins's recent cross-channel endeavours will have on his Punchestown Festival mission.

The soon-to-be 10-time champion trainer averages just one runner per race on tonight's opening seven-race spread.

Matching last year's record of 16 winners across the five days is unlikely.

At the risk of being contradictory, though, it's invariably a matter of quality over quantity with Mullins.

He needs just three wins to top last season's 30 Grade One successes, and that record could even fall today.

The Closutton genius is clearly anxious not to overexert Vautour this term.

Rather than tackle Cue Card again tomorrow, then, the Aintree faller drops to two miles here for the featured Champion Chase.

Also down in trip is Yorkhill, which can do something Vautour can't, namely emulate Istabraq, Sprinter Sacre and On The Fringe by completing a Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown treble.

Rule The World, meanwhile, will strive to enhance its new-found status as an equine superstar by adding to his Aintree Grand National heroics for trainer Mouse Morris and jockey David Mullins in the Grade One novices' chase.



3.40 Fr Sean Breen Chase (banks) 3m

Wish Ye Didnt destroyed Enniskillen in this last year, while her Enda Bolger stablemate Be Positive has been off since winning this in 2014 before running Sizing Australia close.

Verdict: Be Positive.

4.20 Herald Champion Novices' Hurdle 2m

Yorkhill did its best to get beaten at Aintree by trying to cart with Paul Townend but still stamped his class all over his rivals.

Ruby Walsh will ride him accordingly now. Successful over two-and-a-half miles there and at Cheltenham, he is an outstanding prospect that has also won a Grade One over the minimum trip.

Petit Mouchoir built on its Supreme Novices' eighth to push Buveur D'Air hard at Aintree, while Charbel looked as though he might be better over further when fifth in the Supreme.

Verdict: Yorkhill bar a calamity.

4.55 Killashee Handicap Hurdle 2m

Of JP McManus' quartet, Barry Geraghty rides Copy That.

An authoritative winner at Christmas, Copy That has won three of its last four and is 12lbs higher now. Modem ran a nice race to be third at Fairyhouse and has it in him to win a heat like this.

The Plan Man was second that day behind Clondaw Warrior, but looks more exposed. Automated was second to Ivan Grozny at Aintree and has scope to improve.

Verdict: Copy That is lightly raced and comes here fresh.

5.30 Boylesports Champion Chase 2m

Vautour drops to two miles for a first time since being slammed by Clarcam at Leopardstown in 2014, but he has never been shy of pace.

More serious concerns are that he has seemingly developed a preference for going left-handed and that he comes here on the back of a crashing fall at Aintree. He remains an exceptional talent but needs to fence sharp.

Special Tiara led Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase and only failed by a whisker to deny him second behind Sprinter Sacre.

That was a fantastic effort given the fractions that he set. He is a dual Grade One winner at the trip and loves decent ground.

God's Own capitalised on Vautour's Aintree exit to record a second win at the highest level, having also scored here in 2014. He goes well in the spring and wasn't beaten far at Cheltenham.

Simonsig's only run since 2013 came when he was denied in an Aintree thriller by Bobs Worth in November. Winning this is hard to envisage, given his history.

Flemenstar, Clarcam, Twinlight and Baily Green are all capable of an upset on their day but it's hard to see it today.

Verdict: Swerving Sandown and Aintree with Special Tiara (nap) can reap its reward.

6.05 Goffs Land Rover Bumper 2m

Brelade raced keenly in a slow-run race at Leopardstown that was won by Aspen Colorado. That is a fine piece of form, and a stronger gallop here would suit. Allardyce and Guitar George have hinted at ability, while Jenkins was impressive in beating a French winner at Newbury.

Verdict: Nicky Henderson's decision to run Jenkins is of note.

6.40 Growise Champion Novice Chase 3m 1f

Rule The World is viewed through a different prism following his Grand National heroics. He has always been a decent and consistent horse, although history would suggest that he might find one or two too good on decent ground at this level. Nonetheless, if his Aintree exertions haven't left a mark, he may have gained some much needed confidence from the win.

Bryan Cooper has stuck with Outlander, which is rated two pounds lower. He was beaten by the improving Kylemore Lough at Fairyhouse, but three miles on good ground may suit.

Verdict: Outlander is interesting back over this trip.

7.15 Donohue Marquees INH Flat Race 2m

Finula, Blairs Cove, Art Of Supremacy and The Irregular have shown some form. Of the newcomers, Runfordave represents the right connections.

Verdict: Runfordave has appeal.


3.40 Wish Ye Didnt

4.20 Yorkhill

4.55 Western Boy

5.30 Vautour

6.05 Jenkins

6.40 Outlander (nap)

7.15 Cilaos Emery



3.40 Wish Ye Didnt

4.20 Yorkhill

4.55 Automated

5.30 Vautour

6.05 Brelade

6.40 Zabana

7.15 Cilaos Emery


3.40 Need to Know

4.20 Yorkhill

4.55 Copy That

5.30 Vautour

6.05 Hardine

6.40 Noble Endeavor

7.15 Cilaos Emery


3.40 Wish Ye Didnt

4.20 Yorkhill

4.55 Seven Nation Army

5.30 Vautour

6.05 Brelade

6.40 Outlander 

7.15 Finula


3.40 Enniskillen

4.20 Yorkhill

4.55 Bamako Moriviere

5.30 Vautour

6.05 Hardline

6.40 Henryville 

7.15 Cilaos Emery

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