Day three of Punchestown sees the clash of Cheltenham World Hurdle winner Solwhit and the fantastic mare, Quevega in what could prove to be the hottest contest of the festival.
The pair face one another in the Ladbrokes World Series 3m Hurdle which Ruby Walsh’s 9-year-old has won for the past 3 years. She faces much tougher competition this time though, with Solwhit and Davy Russell sure to be fancied in a bid to complete a hat-trick here, after what has been a superb season winning two Grade 1, top class hurdles. If the ground is soft, Reve De Sivola could feature after proving he is a quality stayer during two back-to-back wins at Ascot and Cheltenham.
The other Grade 1 contest of Thursday is the Ryanair Novice Chase which should be an extraordinary race with a great deal of depth. Benefficient will be hoping for a repeat performance of his gutsy win over Dynaste in the Jewson, with the main worry being very soft ground. Arvika Ligeonniere has been disappointing of late after a fantastic start to the season but is much better round right-handed circuits and could be the leading fancy here. Alderwood, Realt Mor and Special Tiara are the others in contention and cannot be taken lightly.
The first race of the day is the Stephen Green Hibernian Club Hurdle which goes off at 15.40. Marito is likely to lead the betting in his first race over hurdles since last year, and excusing his previous fall should go well. Malt Master is also returning to hurdles and may go one better this time under Barry Geraghty. Davy Russell’s Rye Martini has claims dropping back from 3m and he will hope for a repeat performance of his win on Tofino Bay last year.
Barneys Honour is a leading contender for the 4.15 following his stylish 4l victory at Wexford last week. Twinlight is a C&D winner with proven class and is back to his best trip here, but will carry top weight. Paddy O Dee represents good value in search of his third straight win but may struggle if the ground is too soft.
The 4m1f Avon Ri Cross Country Chase presents a wide open race with 17 runners. Big Shu won emphatically at Cheltenham in March and has strong claims in a bid to win back-to-back races. Last year’s winner Uncle Junior can go well again whilst Outlaw Pete and Arabella Boy both warrant respect if they can produce their best form.
The 18.05 is sure to be a tricky betting heat for punters with a field of 25 horses set to run. The festival’s leading jockey, Barry Geraghty will ride Acapulco who has a chance on the back of a decent win at Cork last month, and Call Rog also won well over 3m at Fairyhouse latest and could be worth a bet at good value.
The 2m Orchid Transport Mares Novice Hurdle takes place for the first time this year, and Willie Mullins stable mates Twigline and Upsie are both highly regarded. Ruby Walsh’s preference Upsie is unbeaten and will look to build on her Naas win previously, whilst Twigline should also give a good account. Speckled Wood is progressive and adds depth to another difficult race for punters.
The Kildare Post Flat Race will close the third day and Turnandgo is a leading contender after bolting to a superb 11l victory at Clonmel. Nickey Hendersons’s Captain Cutter warrants respect, as does Cailin Annamh in a race that could feature a potential star of the future.
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There are 6 remaining Grade 1 contests during the festival, and CORAL will feature their Top Industry Price Boost on leading fancies each day of the festival from 12 noon*, as well as great ENHANCED price specials. This includes Solwhit, Hurricane Fly & Our Conor. To bet now with Coral Click Here