Saturday 24 August 2019

Punchestown Day Three: A race-by-race guide and top tips from our experts

The Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase is one of the most eagerly-anticipated contests of the five-day festival. (stock photo)
The Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase is one of the most eagerly-anticipated contests of the five-day festival. (stock photo)
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

There are no superstars on show during day three of the Punchestown Festival but there are plenty which could shine bright in the near future.

The Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase (6.40) is one of the most eagerly-anticipated contests of the five-day festival as four horses with Grade One victories on their last start do battle.

3.40 JLT H'CAP HURDLE 2m40yds

Caution is advised in a 25-runner minefield where it may pay to note that horses carrying less than 11st have won four of the five renewals.

A market check is advised for the Tony Martin pair of Share The Honour (10-12) and Sil Ver Klass (10-10) but John McConnell's Itsalonglongroad (10-13) is a tentative selection coming here after being kept busy on the flat.

Verdict: Itsalonglongroad (e/w) could sneak into a place at decent odds.

4.15 PIGSBACK.COM HANDICAP CHASE 2m

Just one favourite has managed to get the job done in the last decade and Henry de Bromhead's Moon Over Germany is likely to be hovering around the head of the market after breaking his maiden status in style at Aintree.

The raiding team have a strong hand with Ben Case's shock Grand Annual winner Croco Bay taking his chance while Tom George's Bun Doran - second on that occasion - should make the frame again, but preference is for Liam Cusack's Snugsborough Hall.

Bitterly unlucky at Fairyhouse when carried out in the contest won by Jessica Harrington's Impact Factor, Denis O'Regan's mount can take advantage of his light weight to score.

Verdict: Snugsborough Hall can make up for his Fairyhouse misfortune.

4.50 MONGEY COMMUNICATIONS LA TOUCHE CUP 4m2f

Enda Bolger has won the La Touche 14 times and holds leading claims with last year's runner-up Josies Orders back for more under Mark Walsh. While the 11-year-old is forced to give away weight all around, form figures around Punchestown's banks course of UR-1-2-2-2-1-1 make him the stand-out choice.

Jim Dreaper's Sizing Coal is the most likely to lay down the gauntlet.

Verdict: Josies Orders can maintain his brilliant Punchestown record.

5.30 GRADE ONE LADBROKES CHAMPION STAYERS HURDLE 3m

Willie Mullins has farmed this €300,000 stamina test in recent times with six victories in the last 10 years and Bapaume has been really consistent at Grade One level this season.

Last seen when running a belter to be fourth behind Paisley Park in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham, Bapaume is 4lb clear of his nearest rival on official ratings.

Dan Skelton sends over Aux Ptits Soins - seventh in the Stayers' at the Festival - after hacking up in a Grade Three handicap hurdle at Aintree on his next start and the grey is respected.

Unowhatimeanharry, the 2017 winner, has looked out of sorts this season while Colin Tizzard's Vision Des Flos' outstanding Festival form is respected.

Not Many Left is the improver in the field but Robbie Power's mount still has to find a lot to be in the mix.

Verdict: Bapaume is rock solid and can finally get his head in front.

6.05 CONWAY PILING HANDICAP HURDLE 3m

English raiders plundered the spoils in 2016 (Nicky Henderson) and 2017 (Harry Fry) and Fry is double-handed with Air Horse One and Captain Drake.

Mullins has six runners among the 25-runner field but the selection is Anthony Honeyball's Acey Milan, which was fourth in last year's Cheltenham Champion Bumper.

It's taken him a while to get the hang of things over hurdles but off a lowly mark of 125, this is well within his capabilities and Aidan Coleman can steer him into the mix, while Joseph O'Brien's Smoking Gun is also a leading player.

Verdict: Acey Milan has definite each-way prospects under Coleman.

6.40 GRADE ONE RYANAIR NOVICE CHASE 2m

This is one of the most intriguing races of the week as Mullins sends a trio in search of five in a row.

Stunning Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres commands huge respect while French recruit Chacun Pour Soi wowed on his jumping debut at Naas in March.

He falls into the 'could be anything' category while stablemate Voix Du Reve ran away with the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and could come into the mix.

The competition is stiff, however, with Philip Hobbs sending over brilliant JLT winner Defi Du Seuil as he drops back to 2m. His Festival form was well and truly franked by Lostintranslation's Aintree success and Richard Johnson's mount should take plenty of beating in a hot renewal.

Verdict: Defi Du Seuil can score.

7.15 LISTED CLOSE BROTHERS MARES NOVICE HURDLE 2m40yds

Mullins has won three of the six runnings and is doubly represented with Elfile his stand-out contender after a fine second behind Honeysuckle in a Fairyhouse Grade One 11 days ago.

Elfie is the highest rated of the seven runners and is well treated by race conditions, while Gordon Elliott's Black Tears may prove next best under Davy Russell.

Verdict: Mullins's exemplary record with mares can continue with Elfile.

7.45 KILDARE POST (C & G) INH FLAT RACE 2m40yds

Only five contenders in a race where Mullins has won three of the six renewals. He relies on The Big Getaway, a €270,000 purchase which was unlucky in running on his debut.

Massive improvement is expected but Liz Doyle's Cayd Boy may prove best under Derek O'Connor having left a lasting impression when scoring on his first run at Limerick in March.

Verdict: Cayd Boy can take the lucky last for Doyle and O'Connor.

The Expert View

Patrick Mullins

7.15 Allez Dance

7.45 The Big Getaway

Robbie Power

3.40 Polished Steel

4.15 Impact Factor

4.50 Josies Orders

5.30 Aux Ptits Soins

6.05 Discordantly (e/w)

6.40 Defi Du Seuil

7.15 Emily Moon (e/w)

7.45 Fury Road

Niall Cronin

3.40 Curious Times

4.15 Snugsborough Hall

4.50 Josies Orders

5.30 Bapaume

6.05 My Sister Sarah

6.40 Chacun Pour Soi

7.15 Elfile

7.45 You Raised Me Up

Ian Gaughran

3.40 Bercasa

4.15 Moon Over Germany

4.50 Josies Orders

5.30 Aux Ptits Soins

6.05 Three Musketeers

6.40 Defi Du Seuil

7.15 Elfile

7.45 The Big Getaway

Katie Walsh

3.40 Itsalonglongroad

4.15 Snugsborough Hall

4.50 Josies Orders

5.30 Bapaume

6.05 Smoking Gun

6.40 Chacun Pour Soui

7.15 Elfile

7.45 You Raised Me Up

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