After a superb opening to the Punchestown Festival on Tuesday, day two is sure to entertain with the Punchestown Gold Cup the feature race.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, Sir Des Champs, ran a spectacular race behind Bobsworth and the 7-year-old looks hard to fault.
Davy Russell’s gelding is expected to lead the betting for the big race, with the former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run second favourite. First Lieutenant was very impressive when winning the Aintree Bowl earlier this month and finished in front of Sir Des Champs in the Lexus Chase back in December. At such short odds, Sir Des Champs may be worth opposing against this top class field and Long Run should get closer to him here.
The Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle is sure to be a quality Grade 1 event and the two expected to battle it out are Willie Mullins’ stable mates, Ballycasey and Inish Island. Ballycasey is preferred by Ruby Walsh following his comfortable 3l win at Thurles in January although he missed Cheltenham Festival through injury. Inish Island ran a creditable third behind At Fishers Cross and African Gold in March and if the ground remains soft, could prove to be the safest bet. Road To Riches should run well providing the ground remains testing.
Willie Mullins and Noel Meade have both won The Peoples Exchange Champion Flat Race 3 times in the last 10 years, so they are sure to have a good hand here. Leading contender is Mullins’ remarkable Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill, who completed his hat-trick bid in the Grade 1 contest at Cheltenham, defying long odds of 25/1. Stable mate, Outlander is unbeaten in bumpers and is suited by the conditions, but he doesn’t look on the same level as Briar Hill, who seems to be a worthy favourite against this field. Blackmail and The Mighty Milan both symbolise each-way value.
The Guinness Handicap Chase presents a wide open market with classy mare Nadiya De La Vega expected to give a good account. Sumkindasuprstar ran well to see off Mr Cracker and Call The Police at Navan last time and all three compete again in what is an appealing betting market. Canaly is progressive and has a chance under Bryan Cooper excusing his fall previously.
Brian Who won well at Fairyhouse earlier this month and may lead the market in what looks to be a wide open race. Never Enough Time won at Cork but will carry top weight going into the race of 25 runners and Chino Valdes is a C&D winner who looks interesting.
Ruby Walsh will be hoping for back-to-back victories in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle on Wednesday when he rides Call Me Bubbles, who jumped much better last time out and has a serious chance. Stable mate Viconte Du Noyer will make his debut for the yard but could find others too good when making his first start for a year. Dalasiri is another who warrants respect with proven form.
The Mullins partnership will be hoping to retain their crown when saddling Sizing Chile in the Attheraces.com Flat Race. Flash of Genius was the 11/4 winner for the yard last year and Sizing Chile is sure to be involved at decent value. Flags Pass is another contender on the back of a good second, and Master Oscar represents good value on his bumper debut.
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