Punchestown Day 5 preview: ‘Love’ is all around with Harry Fry’s raider set to sizzle on final day
Willie Mullins has monopolised the Mares Champion Hurdle (3.50) at Punchestown, winning seven of the last nine renewals, but it may be a tall order to make it a great eight today.
This looks like a far more open contest with UK raider Love Envoi making the trip across the Irish Sea for Harry Fry after a superb effort when second at Cheltenham.
Danny Mullins’ mount had several of these in behind in the Mares’ Hurdle when giving Honeysuckle a proper race with Queens Brook (third), Echoes In Rain (fourth), Brandy Love (fifth), Epatante (eighth) and Shewearsitwell (ninth) in arrears.
Given Mullins’ blistering form, it would be no surprise were Echoes In Rain (Paul Townend’s choice) to produce a season’s best but Love Envoi could prove a tough nut to crack.
The seven-year-old makes the visit to these shores much fresher than when turned over by Brandy Love at Fairyhouse last year and she has the form in the book to justify short odds.
Mullins has also taken seven of the last nine runnings of the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle – five with short-priced jollies – and he holds a typically strong hand again.
Lossiemouth was an impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle and Townend’s mount is warm order to land the double at Punchestown as the Closutton maestro sends a quartet into action.
Lossiemouth had just over two lengths to spare over stablemate Gala Marceau on that occasion and there’s little to suggest that form will be reversed with the Andy McNamara-trained Enjoy The Dream the likely fly in the ointment.
The German recruit raised plenty of eyebrows when stuffing Blood Destiny in a Fairyhouse Grade Two earlier this month – on just her second start for the Meath trainer – and she may prove second best to the classy Lossiemouth.
Mercury Lane has always been considered as a stout stayer by Paul Nolan and he gets his chance to shine in the Colm Quinn BMW Handicap Chase (3.10), ran over a gruelling 3m7f trip.
The nine-year-old, which comes here off the back of a decent second at Wexford over a trip shorter than his optimum, scrapes in near the bottom of the handicap and can prove each-way value off a light weight under Seán Flanagan.
Emmet Mullins landed a first Grade One success earlier this week via Feronily and the Aintree Grand National-winning trainer could have a live one in the handicap hurdle (5.30).
The Shunter helped to put Mullins on the map a few years back and the 10-year-old, partnered by Mark Walsh and third in this race two years ago, may have another kick left in him having being dropped in the weights.
Mullins has been cleaning up all around him at the Kildare track this week but he will also be casting a close eye on the Grade Three Prix Ingre Chase (4.10) in Auteuil today.
Franco De Port is being prepared for a tilt at next month’s Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, a rare marquee prize not yet on Mullins’ CV, and this is the eight-year-old’s prep run under Johnny Charron.