Sunday 19 November 2017

Nichols to confirm Cheltenham form in Stayers

Nichols Canyon and Ruby Walsh can strike at Punchestown today. Photo: Sportsfile
Nichols Canyon and Ruby Walsh can strike at Punchestown today. Photo: Sportsfile

Keith Hamer

Nichols Canyon can confirm Cheltenham form and back up that victory in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle on the third day of the Punchestown Festival today.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding relished the three miles of last month's Stayers' Hurdle as he came out on top against Lil Rockerfeller and Unowhatimeanharry.

There appeared to be no fluke about that success and it has to be remembered that Nichols Canyon won the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One novice hurdle at this meeting two years ago.

This may be a strong renewal of this race but Nichols Canyon keeps surprising everyone and has already eight wins at the highest level.

Mullins has made no secret of how he rates Great Field and the rapidly-progressive six-year-old can continue his winning run in the Ryanair Novice Chase. Great Field only won his beginners' chase at Gowran in May and has since followed up at Leopardstown and Thurles.

The JP McManus-owned gelding has made all the running on those occasions and has never looked like stopping. He looks an exciting prospect.

The McManus colours can also be carried to victory by Stamp Your Feet, which goes for the JLT Handicap Hurdle in tremendous form.

His trainer Tom George loves to target this meeting but only brings horses he feels have a good chance and Stamp Your Feet certainly fits that bill.

He looked an improving type when winning a competitive contest at Haydock earlier this month and the handicapper may not yet have his measure.

Barra can land a deserved success in the Alanna Homes (Mares) Novice Hurdle after being highly tried in her last three starts since winning a maiden event.

The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old was a fine runner-up to Let's Dance in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. She followed that up with another big effort to take third place behind Augusta Kate and Let's Dance in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse earlier this month. This race should not take as much winning and she looks to have solid claims, as long as those last two races have not left their mark.

Elsewhere, Raucous can claim the honours on his first run for 208 days in the Buxted Construction Ltd Conditions Stakes, the richest race on the card at Chelmsford.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old is having his first run since being gelded, but is well worth the risk.

Raucous boasts Pattern-race form as a two- and three-year-old, having finished third in the Gimcrack at York behind Ajaya as a juvenile and third to Shalaa in the Bengough Stakes at Ascot last autumn.

Punchestown selections

3.40 Stamp Your Feet, 4.15 Potters Point, 4.50 Cantlow, 5.30 Nichols Canyon (Nap), 6.05 No Comment, 6.40 Great Field, 7.15 Barra, 7.45 Rathcannon.

Irish Independent

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