Friday 24 May 2019

Punchestown Day Four: Race-by-race guide and all the top tips from our experts

So many intriguing questions to be answered as the Punchestown Champion Hurdle takes centre stage on day four at the Kildare track. (stock picture)
So many intriguing questions to be answered as the Punchestown Champion Hurdle takes centre stage on day four at the Kildare track. (stock picture)
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

So many intriguing questions to be answered as the Punchestown Champion Hurdle takes centre stage on day four at the Kildare track.

Can Buveur D'Air gain some compensation for his Champion Hurdle hat-trick bid going awry at Cheltenham? Will the wonder mare Apple's Jade bounce back to her best or can the consistent Supasundae make it back-to-back victories? Time will tell.

3.40 KFM HUNTERS CHASE FOR THE BISHOPSCOURT CUP 2m4f

Peter Maher is a dab hand in these races and Alpha Male turned this into a procession last year.

He sends him into battle once again and returning to the Festival should light up Alpha Male, while Enniskillen returns having come fifth in the Fr Sean Breen Memorial three days ago.

Verdict: Crack amateur Barry O'Neill can score on Alpha Male.

4.20 GRADE A EMS COPIERS NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE 2m5f

Subsequent Punchestown Gold Cup winner Kemboy took this last year and it's an intriguing contest.

Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington have shared the last six renewals and have live chances again today with Robbie Power riding Jetz - a Grade Three winner at Navan - for Harrington and if his jumping improves from Thurles, he will be bang there at the finish.

Paul Townend is aboard Mullins' Real Steel - second to stablemate Voix Du Reve in a recent Fairyhouse Grade One - and he could prove the class act for the Closutton maestro.

Verdict: Townend and Mullins can land this with Real Steel.

4.55 GRADE B HANLON CONCRETE MARES HANDICAP CHASE 2m5f

No horse carrying more than 11-1 has won any of the five renewals but that may be bucked by Denis Hogan's classy mare Moyhenna (11-4).

The front-runner jumped her rivals into submission in a Grade Two at Limerick in March and if getting into a rhythm from the off, she can prove a tough nut to crack.

Verdict: Jockey/trainer Hogan can dominate aboard Moyhenna.

5.30 GRADE ONE BETDAQ P'TOWN CHAMPION HURDLE 2m

Only seven runners but a tantalising prospect as Nicky Henderson sends over dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air and the eight-year-old will relish the drop back to two miles.

Mark Walsh's mount comes here on the back of a brave effort when second at Aintree behind Harrington's Supasundae - winner of this race 12 months ago in fortuitous circumstances.

This is a top-class renewal with 25 Grade One wins between the septet in a race where the last seven favourites have obliged.

Elliott's Apple's Jade hasn't looked herself in recent runs and has to be taken on having been beaten by vastly inferior sorts at Aintree.

Mullins has won seven of the last nine renewals and Champion Hurdle second Melon - a faller at Aintree - looks his best chance but it's hard to look past Buveur D'Air.

Verdict: Buveur D'Air is a rock-solid favourite and can oblige.

6.05 GRADE ONE ALANNA HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE 2m4f

A cracking contest as Mullins sends five in pursuit of his sixth victory in 11 years with last year's Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Tornado Flyer looking his leading chance.

Something went amiss at Naas behind Battleoverdoyen, while the same can be said of Gordon Elliott's talented six-year-old, which never looked comfortable at Cheltenham.

Mouse Morris' Sams Profile is very progressive and is likely to be in the mix again while Colin Tizzard's Reserve Tank is of interest having skipped the Festival before scoring in an Aintree Grade One and Robbie Power's mount should go close.

When all is said and done, however, the most likely winner is Martin Brassil's City Island. His Ballymore win was boosted when runner-up Champ scored at Aintree and he has oozed class all season.

Verdict: City Island can land the Cheltenham/Punchestown double.

6.35 CHAMPION HUNTERS CHASE 3m120yds

Enda Bolger has farmed this race with five of the last nine winners and his sole representative is Stand Up And Fight, sixth home in the Foxhunters' Chase at Cheltenham.

Dual winner Salsify (2011 and '13) is back for more at the age of 14, while 2017 victor Balnaslow and last year's scorer Caid Du Berlais also take their chance once again.

This may go the way of Elliott's Ucello Conti, however, after the classy 11-year-old bounced back from a disappointing display at the Cotswolds to score at Fairyhouse.

Verdict: Ucello Conti could prove a class above under Barry O'Neill.

7.10 SALESSENSE INTERNATIONAL NOVICE HURDLE 2m

Mullins have won five of the last six runnings and holds another strong hand with Cash Back, one-time Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Annamix and Breaken.

Paul Townend sticks with Breaken after his effortless Limerick win but Joseph O'Brien's Gardens Of Babylon will take some stopping as he takes advantage of the four-year-old allowance and coming here boasting superb Grade One form.

Verdict: Gardens Of Babylon to bloom in the hands of Walsh.

7.45 DONAL O'BUACHALLA PROPERTY ADVISORS BUMPER 2m2f

British raiders have landed three of the last five runnings so Lucinda Russell's Lucky Flight is respected while Mullins' Monkfish, a €275,000 purchase, is the likely favourite.

But Brassil's Longhouse Poet may prove best under Derek O'Connor.

Verdict: Point-to-point winner Longhouse Poet can score.

TIPS FROM OUR EXPERTS

NIALL CRONIN

3.40: ALPHA MALE

4.20: POKER PARTY

4.55: GREY WATERS

5.30: SUPASUNDAE

6.05: CITY ISLAND

6.35: STAND UP AND FIGHT

7.10: BREAKEN

7.45: MONKFISH

IAN GAUGHRAN

3.40: ALPHA MALE

4.20: DE NAME ESCAPES ME

4.55: TIMEFORWEST

5.30: BUVEUR D'AIR

6.05: CITY ISLAND

6.35: BURNING AMBITION

7.10: BREAKEN

7.45: GOLD DES BOIS

NICK ROBSON

3.40: TIPP AWAY

4.20: BEYOND THE LAW

4.55: TIMEFORWEST

5.30: BUVEUR D'AIR

6.05: CITY ISLAND

6.35: BURNING AMBITION

7.10: ANNAMIX

7.45: GOLD DE BOIS

KATIE WALSH

3.40: ALPHA MALE

4.20: POKER PARTY

4.55: MOYHENNA

5.30: SUPASUNDAE

6.05: CITY ISLAND

6.35: FENNO'S STORM

7.10: BREAKEN

7.45: LONGHOUSE POET

ROBBIE POWER

3.40: ALPHA MALE

4.20: JETZ (E/W)

4.55: TIMEFORWEST

5.30: SUPASUNDAE

6.05: RESERVE TANK

6.35: BURNING AMBITION

7.10: ANNAMIX

7.45: GOLD DE BOIS

Indo Sport

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport