Richard Forristal: Sunday service
Three things we'll learn at Punchestown next week
1 What the ultimate two-mile pecking order is. On Tuesday, Sizing Europe, Big Zeb and Golden Silver -- each with a win over the other two this term -- will feature in a definitive speed-chasing showdown, the Boylesports.com Champion Chase. Sizing Europe holds the belt after his win at Cheltenham, but he needs to do it again to earn the 'undisputed' title. A similar challenge awaits Hurricane Fly on Friday following his Champion Hurdle triumph in the absence of Binocular, the holder of the 2010 crown. While you couldn't fault The Fly's Cheltenham display, victory would quash any lingering doubts about his superiority.
2 The outcome of the 2010/2011 jump jockeys' championship. Paul Townend, in just his third season riding over sticks, is on the verge of substantiating his incredible rise with a first title, but Davy Russell has made huge inroads since returning from injury in November. He is also chasing a first win, and hasn't given up the ghost yet -- despite the impression he gave in an RTE interview at Fairyhouse.
3 Has Kauto Star got another big day in him? After a barnstorming effort at Cheltenham, the fear is that he won't be at his peak for the Gold Cup on Wednesday -- then again, he may not need to be.
Outsider to note
Perpetually is likely to trade at double-figure odds in the opening 12-furlong handicap at Newmarket tomorrow, and Mark Johnston's five-year-old warrants each-way support.
Victorious in his only two races at two and three, the Singspiel gelding went through all of last year without a win in five starts. However, as his earlier record proves, he clearly goes well fresh, despite an odds-on defeat on his reappearance in 2010.
On that occasion, nine furlongs on the all-weather may not have suited, yet Perpetually still finished third off a career-high mark of 91. He continued to hold his own thereafter, so he may not need to find much more to get involved off 87 now.
Newmarket 2.05 -- Perpetually
Newmarket 2.35 -- Eleanora Duse
Newmarket 3.15 -- Misty For Me
Sligo 4.20 -- Run For Sol
100 Kauto Star's percentage strike-rate in Ireland. The dual Gold Cup hero is two from two at Down Royal ahead of his foray to Punchestown next week.
12 The record number of winners that Willie Mullins has trained at each of the last two Punchestown Festivals.
8.50 The time TG4's Punchestown preview airs tonight. It will be repeated at 8.0 on Monday evening.
Quote of the Week
"I wanted Timmy on Ghizao and Paul (Nicholls) didn't, so that's why Ruby rode him. He is stable jockey, but maybe the owner should have the choice sometimes. We might have a few more horses next year and hopefully those horses will be in stables that don't mind Timmy riding for them" -- Owner David Johnson's tuppenceworth after Timmy Murphy's season-saving triumph on Poker De Sivola last Saturday.
Monday: Curragh, Down Royal, Limerick, Beverley, Chepstow, Kempton (AW), Warwick, Windsor
Tuesday: Punchestown*, Bath, Catterick*, Exeter*, Fakenham, Newcastle
Wednesday: Punchestown*, Cheltenham*, Chester, Kelso, Sedgefield*, Southwell (AW)
Thursday: Punchestown*, Chester, Ffos Las*, Goodwood, Newton Abbot, Wincanton*, Wetherby*
Friday: Punchestown*, Ascot*, Aintree*, Chester, Hamilton*, Lingfield, Nottingham, Ripon*
Saturday: Punchestown, Ascot, Haydock, Hexham, Lingfield, Nottingham, Thirsk*, Warwick*
Sunday: Leopardstown, Plumpton, Uttoxeter, Worchester