Wednesday 17 October 2018

Punchestown 2018 Day Two: All the top tips from our experts including a race-by-race preview

Gordon Elliott (left) and Willie Mullins (right).
Gordon Elliott (left) and Willie Mullins (right).

Michael Verney

There's no shortage of quality on offer for day two of the Punchestown Festival but all eyes will be on the Coral Gold Cup which sees Noel Meade bid to spoil the Willie Mullins/Gordon Elliott party.

Road To Respect heads the market based on his career-best at Cheltenham last month and looks the one to beat in another cracking renewal.

Here who are experts are going with on Day Two of the Punchestown Festival:

Michael Verney

3.40 Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final H'cap Hurdle 2m 5f

Only one favourite has obliged in the last 10 runnings with big-priced winners ranging from 33/1, 25/1 (twice), 16/1, 14/1 (twice) and 12/1 (twice) so caution is advised for punters but one of interest at the bottom of the handicap is Lyreen Lad for Tony Martin.

Having won a Tipperary maiden this time last year, Eddie O'Connell's mount is an interesting contender reverting back to hurdles after a disappointing spell over fences.

Last year’s winner Enniskillen falls during the opening race of the Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Last year’s winner Enniskillen falls during the opening race of the Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Edward Cawley's consistent Nobody Home deserves respect, while British raider Man Of Plenty is another intriguing challenger for Sophie Leech but Lyreen Lad is the selection.

Verdict: It may pay to side with bottom-weight Lyreen Lad.

4.20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle 2m 4f

A tricky affair to figure out but race conditions are unlikely to suit the likes of Henry de Bromhead's Arcenfete and Pat Doyle's Kaiser Black. Jessica Harrington's Not Many Left is another which is worse off at the weights with higher rated rivals but the Moone handler has taken two of the last three renewals.

This is likely to come down to a duel between Mullins - who won this race 12 months ago - and Elliott and Closutton's Pravalaguna has a live chance based on her recent fourth at Fairyhouse, but preference is for Cullentra's Sire Du Berlais.

He sets the standard based on his fourth to stable companion Blow By Blow in last month's Martin Pipe and will be a tough nut to crack.

Verdict: Sire Du Berlais looks a cut above the rest for Barry Geraghty.

4.55 Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle 3m

Three Cheltenham Festival winners are among the 11-runner field with Blow By Blow, Delta Work (Pertemps Final) and Albert Bartlett winner Kilbricken Storm all taking their chance.

Blow By Blow - winner of the Champion Bumper here two years ago - makes a significant step up in grade against some proven performers and Colin Tizzard's Kilbricken Storm sets a good standard.

Even subsequent Stayers' Hurdle winner Penhill was turned over 12 months ago when trying to back up his Albert Bartlett victory, however, and with six-year-olds winning the last seven runnings, Mullins may be the one to follow after prevailing twice in the last three years.

The only blot on Next Destination's hurdle career is his third in last month's Ballymore but there is no shame in being beaten by Samcro while the second horse Black Op has since franked the form and he looks the one to beat.

Verdict: Next Destination's form is rock-solid and he looks to be crying out for this step up in trip.

5.30 Grade One Coral Punchestown Gold Cup 3m 120yds

There are more questions than answers about many of the 13 Gold Cup contenders as Mullins makes a four-pronged attack with title rival Elliott solely represented by Outlander.

Both Killultagh Vic and Total Recall are on retrieval missions and it's hard to have huge optimism, although both are seriously talented and capable of bouncing back to form. Tizzard's Sizing Granite was a winner at this Festival 12 months but this looks a stiff task, while Joseph O'Brien's shock Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf is opposable on the balance of his form.

Djakadam was just touched off by Sizing John in a thrilling renewal 12 months ago but doesn't look the same horse this season. The classy Bellshill - a recent Bobbjo Chase winner - ran a cracker under a hefty weight in the Irish National earlier this month and may give the favourite most to do.

The most likely winner, however, is Gold Cup fourth Road To Respect. Meade's charge is one of few in the form of his life and he can add to his Leopardstown Christmas Chase win.

Verdict: Road To Respect is a worthy favourite and can do the business.

6.05 Grade One Racing Post Champion Flat Race 2m 70yds

Half the 10-runner field ran in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with that quintet all in the first six home at the Cotswolds as Relegate completed her hat-trick for Mullins.

The tables may be turned by stable-mate Carefully Selected but she has a fair chance of backing up her Festival success - much like Fayonagh (2017), Champagne Fever (2012) and Cousin Vinny (2008) have done in the past decade. Patrick Mullins - winner of this race four times in the last ten years - sticks with Blackbow but a chance is taken on Rapid Escape, which was fifth behind him at Leopardstown when bombing out. Elliott's charge had won three on the bounce but that run was too bad to be true and he represents each-way value if bouncing back to his best.

Verdict: Rapid Escape (e/w) could be value under Lisa O'Neill.

6.40 Grade A Guinness Handicap Chase 2m 4f

Favourites have a shocking record in the last decade of this valuable handicap chase which Tizzard plundered last year with Sizing Granite.

Stable-mate Viconte Du Noyer was second 12 months ago off 5lbs higher but his best chance may be Topham Chase second Shanahan's Turn, which looks slightly ahead of the handicapper. Harrington's Woodland Opera - a winner here last year - could make the frame but the prize may head across the Irish Sea again.

Verdict: Shanahan's Turn can have his day in the sun.

7.15 Grade Three Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race 2m 70yds

Mullins is renowned for his ability to produce top-quality mares and he has another good one on his hands with Champion Bumper seventh Colreevy, the mount of son Patrick.

This is a cracking renewal, however, and Elliott's recent Listed Fairyhouse Bumper winner Tintangle will provide stiff competition and may get her head in front in this open €50,000 contest.

Verdict: Tintangle can follow up in the hands of Nina Carberry.

Patrick Mullins

4.55: Next Destination

6.05: Blackbow

Niall Cronin

3.40: Fine Theatre

4.20: Sire Du Berlais

4.55: Next Destination

5.30: Djakadam

6.05: Carefully Selected

6.40: Oscar Knight

7.15: Colreevy

Ian Gaughran

3.40: Steel Wave E/W

4.20: Sire Du Berlais

4.55: Next Destination

5.30: Road to Respect

6.05: Relegate

6.40: Blast of Koeman

7.15: Tintangle

Robbie Power

3.40: Black Key

4.20: Sire Du Berlais

4.55: Next Destination

5.30: Road to Respect

6.05: Relegate

6.40: Demi Sang

7.15: Tintangle

Katie Walsh

3.40: Nobody Home

4.20: Good Thyne Tara

4.55: Next Destination

5.30: Road to Respect

6.05: Relegate

6.40: Woodland Opera

7.15: Colreevy

Shark Hanlon

3.40: Black Key

4.20: Sire Du Berlais

4.55: Next Destination

5.30: Road to Respect

6.05: Blackbow

6.40: Oscar Knight

7.15: Tintangle

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