Thursday 22 August 2019

Punchestown Day Two: All your top tips and a race-by-race preview for Gold Cup day

Redemption awaits Bellshill in potential Gold Cup classic

Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend on their way to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. Can he add the Irish equivalent to his CV. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend on their way to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. Can he add the Irish equivalent to his CV. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It's all about the Gold Cup on day two of the Punchestown Festival as Willie Mullins pits three of his leading chasers against each other.

Can Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo add the Irish equivalent to his CV or will stablemate Kemboy show that it could have been a different story had he stayed standing at the Cotswolds? Last year's winner Bellshill adds more intrigue to an epic renewal.

3.40 ADARE MANOR OPPORTUNITY SERIES FINAL H'CAP HURDLE 2m5f

Only one favourite has obliged in the last 10 runnings and this 25-runner minefield has been a bookie bonanza.

Jessica Harrington has Conron and Press Conference and the latter may prove the answer under Seán O'Keeffe.

The six-year-old saw off the much-touted Annamix over Christmas and could prove a class above the rest.

Verdict: Press Conference can land the opener for Harrington.

4.20 CONNOLLY'S RED MILLS IRISH EBF AUCTION HURDLE FINAL 2m4f

It could be a blessing in disguise that Zero Ten came up short in a Fairyhouse Grade Two earlier this month as victory would have meant that Emmet Mullins' charge wouldn't qualify for this.

The six-year-old holds obvious claims with David Mullins choosing him over Peter Fahey's The Big Dog, which narrowly missed out on a run in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Big Dog had Voix Des Tiep (Mullins and Ruby Walsh) in arrears at Gowran Park before flopping in a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival, but he is given another chance to confirm that form and take down Zero Ten.

Verdict: The Big Dog can bite back under champion jockey Davy Russell.

4.55 LOUIS FITZGERALD HOTEL HURDLE 2m4f

Mullins has won the last two runnings and is triple-handed with Walsh opting for Crack Tiepy, not seen since scoring over hurdles in good style on her Irish debut 890 days ago.

Mullins' Crack Mome and Elimay have graded form but Henry de Bromhead's Paloma Blue is the highest rated and switches to hurdles after a frustrating time over fences. Dermot Weld pitches Days Without End in over hurdles for the first time, but it may pay to side with the Mullins-Walsh axis again.

Verdict: The mare Crack Tiepy can provide the answer.

5.30 GRADE ONE IRISH DAILY MIRROR NOVICE HURDLE 3m

The form of the Albert Bartlett will be put to the test with De Bromhead's winner Minella Indo, Gordon Elliott's second Commander Of Fleet and Mullins' third Allaho renewing rivalries.

Minella Indo is warm order to complete the double, but Commander Of Fleet was just two lengths behind and this flatter track should play to his strengths having won the Land Rover Bumper here 12 months ago.

He was seven lengths clear of Allaho at the Cotswolds and he looks the value choice, while Mullins' second string, Carefully Selected, is another danger.

Verdict: Commander Of Fleet can reverse Festival form with Minella Indo.

6.05 GRADE ONE CORAL PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP 3m120yds

What a race in store as Mullins sends three stable stars into battle, with Al Boum Photo, Kemboy and Bellshill heading the betting.

It's hard to see the €300,000 feature going anywhere but Closutton and it's not inconceivable to think the Cheltenham Gold Cup may have a different name on it had Kemboy not fallen at the first. His Aintree romp was thoroughly impressive, but odds around even money are very skimpy with Al Boum Photo - an underrated blue riband winner - an obvious danger.

Preference is for last year's winner Bellshill, however, with the nine-year-old three from three around the Kildare track and he is taken to bounce back to form after his Cheltenham flop.

Monalee should be competitive for De Bromhead, while English raider Definitly Red has each-way claims.

Verdict: Bellshill loves Punchestown and can prove best of the Mullins trio.

6.40 GRADE ONE RACING POST APP CHAMPION FLAT RACE 2m70yds

Mullins has landed six of the last eight renewals and has three engaged with son Patrick on Mt Leinster, which has been expensive to follow, but Golden Spread may prove his best.

There's nothing of the quality of Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen in the field, but his Dublin Racing Festival win may prove the key form line here with Joseph O'Brien's Embittered (third) and Noel Meade's Beacon Edge (fourth) likely to play out the finish.

Neither have been seen since but that was just the second career start for Beacon Edge and the way he finished that day suggests there is sufficient scope for improvement to turn the tables.

Verdict: Mark O'Hare can score aboard Meade's Beacon Edge.

7.10 GRADE A GUINNESS HANDICAP CHASE 2m4f

No favourite has scored in the last 10 runnings and it's another open renewal with Harrington's Jett heading the weights after easily landing a Fairyhouse Grade Two just nine days ago.

He commands serious respect, as does 2017 winner Sizing Granite for Colin Tizzard, while the Mullins pair of the unexposed Class Conti and Livelovelaugh are others to note.

Last year's runner-up Blast Of Koeman has been kept fresh and Robert Tyner's charge may go one better.

Verdict: The reliable Blast Of Koeman can get his head in front.

7.45 GRADE THREE WEATHERBYS MARES FLAT RACE 2m70yds

The fact that son Patrick is not aboard any of the Mullins trio is a sign in itself and this prize can go elsewhere.

Mullins rides De Bromhead's Minella Melody having been backed as if defeat was out of the question when second in a similar event at Aintree.

She faces a stiff task with Aintree third Daylight Katie taking her chance once again for Gordon Elliott, but both may have to play second fiddle to Fahey's Gypsy Island after a scintillating showing at Fairyhouse.

Verdict: Gypsy Island can land the spoils for Derek O'Connor.

Patrick Mullins

4.20 Zero Ten

5.30 Allaho

6.05 Bellshill

7.10 Livelovelaugh

Robbie Power

3.40 Press Conference

4.20 Zero Ten

4.55 Paloma Blue

5.30 Allaho

6.05 Al Boum Photo

6.40 Santa Rossa

7.10 Jett

7.45 Gypsy Island

Niall Cronin

3.40 Press Conference

4.20 Zero Ten

4.55 Paloma Blue

5.30 Minella Indo

6.05 Al Boum Photo

6.40 Embittered

7.10 Monatomic

7.45 Gypsy Island

Ian Gaughran

3.40 Press Conference

4.20 The Big Dog

4.55 Vision D’Honneur

5.30 Carefully Selected

6.05 Al Boum Photo

6.40 Santa Rossa

7.10 Sizing Granite

7.45 Gypsy Island

Katie Walsh

3.40 Musical Slave

4.20 The Big Dog

4.55 Paloma Blue

5.30 Carefully Selected

6.05 Kemboy

6.40 Abacadabras

7.10 Livelovelaugh

7.45 Gypsy Island

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