Punchestown Day 3
The feature race of Day 3 is the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle where Flooring Porter will look to confirm his status as the top 3-mile staying hurdler around, after a fine performance at Cheltenham. A whole host of good horses will look to take him down including fellow Cheltenham Festival winners, Mrs Milner and Heaven Help Us. 2019 Supreme winner Klassical Dream is arguably the most interesting runner of the day for team Mullins. The Closutton master also has a strong hand in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase where the exciting Energumene is a short-priced favourite to get the job done. The Day 2 preview struck gold with Surprise Package landing a 33/1 winner so fingers crossed we can keep the ball rolling on Day 3!
Gavin Cromwell’s highly progressive Five Helmets can land the opener
The first race on Day 3 is the Specialist Joinery Group Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles. Plenty of these come into this with some pretty uninspiring form to their name and as a result, there will no doubt be a handful on dangerous marks. I’m going to side with the form horse though in the shape of Gavin Cromwell’s Five Helmets 6/1 who has won his last two starts in stylish fashion. He appears to be on a steep upward curve and on visuals I believe he can defy a 9lb rise in the weights. If anything, I think he may take another step forward on ground he looks sure to relish. With Flooring Porter to come in the big one later on the cards, I’m hoping Cromwell and Moore can get off to the perfect start.
McManus battalion can land him the spoils
An extremely competitive field of 21 go to post for the Pigsback.com Handicap Chase over 2 miles. JP McManus is no stranger to these big field handicap chases and in typical fashion, he is well represented. Entoucas 5/1 has really solid claims on the back of a very consistent season and he was a tad unlucky not to get his head in front at Cheltenham in the Grand Annual. He looks well treated off a 2lb higher mark and won’t need to improve much more to be bang there at the finish. I think Entoucas represents a solid win chance in what looks a fiercely competitive handicap. Joseph O’Brien and JP McManus also combine with Top Moon 25/1 who looks a big price on a form line through Entoucas himself. Top Moon finished 6 lengths ahead of Entoucas in receipt of 7lbs over 2 miles at The Dublin Racing Festival. The pair meet again here but Top Moon will receive 10lbs, benefiting from a 3lb swing at the weights. He ran a perfectly good race when narrowly denied over 2 miles and 6 furlongs against Myth Buster and he was a blatant non stayer in The Irish National last time out. Dropped back into the hustle and bustle of a 2-mile handicap chase should see him in a different light and I am hoping he can stay on strongly to cause an upset. Mcmanus to land the one two!
Blue Templar the play in mammoth cross-country race
The Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase is next up on the cards in what is usually an interesting race to watch. Some Neck has strong claims on the back of a fine run in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, whilst Alpha Des Obeaux was staying on all the time when finishing fourth in the same contest. He has completed The English Grand National since though and I’d subsequently worry how much left he has in the tank for another stamina sapping race. Blue Templar 11/1 comes into this with a very different profile having had just the one start this season. He finished a good third over an inadequate two and half miles and was doing all his best work at the finish. That looked an ideal prep race for this, and we know he goes well at this meet having won two races at the Punchestown Festival back in 2019. He can go well for his very shrewd connections.
Stayers Hurdle Champion Flooring Porter bids to enhance his growing reputation
The first Grade 1 of the day is a cracking renewal of the Ladbroke Champion Stayers Hurdle where a strong field of 14 is headed by Stayers Hurdle winner Flooring Porter. He really has gone from strength to strength this season, seeing his Official Rating rise over 30lbs. As a six-year-old there is every chance he can improve again and be a real force in the Stayers division for years to come. He looks the obvious winner, but I’ll take a chance that Cheltenham may have taken a bit out of him. Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump 13/2 was firmly on my radar for this year’s Stayers but had to miss Cheltenham due to a set-back. He subsequently comes into this with just the two runs under his belt this season, with the last being particularly eye catching. He stormed home in the Hatton’s Grace to finish just half a length behind the mighty Honeysuckle and ahead of Beacon Edge who he faces again today. Honeysuckle has clearly gone on to enhance the form, but Beacon Edge has also advertised this run, with some exceptional efforts of his own. The step back up to three miles will really suit Ronald Pump and I’m hoping he can capitalise in a race where a few may be running on fumes come the end. Cheltenham Festival winning mares, Heaven Help Us and Mrs Milner both warrant respect now upped to Grade 1 company, but they do have improve drastically on ratings to get involved. Klassical Dream is a very interesting runner for Willie Mullins especially over three miles. He is likely to need this run after a long time off but a strong market move for him could be hard to ignore given his classy profile.
Take a chance on Dallas in red hot handicap hurdle
The Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle is next up the card and this looks like a hot handicap to me. You can make a solid case for plenty of these, especially the McManus pair heading the betting. I’ll side with a Gigginstown runner who sprung back to life in this year’s Martin Pipe. Dallas Des Pictons 20/1 ran a massive race at 66/1 to finish a staying on fifth having shown very little since finishing second in the same race back in 2019. This run represented a big step back in the right direction and he stayed on promisingly up the Cheltenham Hill. On that evidence, this step up to three miles looks sure to suit and Jordan Gainford takes a valuable 7lbs off, bringing to down to a mark of 130. Previously rated 148, he looks extremely well treated on old form and Galopin Des Champs did wonders for the form when bolting up in Grade 1 company on Day 2. The signs are there for a big run and he looks overpriced at 20/1.
Energumene to show his class in Ryanair rout
Just the 5 runners go to post for the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase over 2 miles. The field are headed by Energumene 2/5 who has looked a class act over fences so far this season. He has already defeated main market rival Captain Guinness twice this season and finds himself well clear on Official Ratings. Energumene was forced to miss his Arkle showdown with Shishkin due to lameness but reports are he recovered quickly and is back firing on all cylinders. His time figures have been sensational this season and he has been awesome in the jumping department. This return a right-handed track will arguably be to his liking and I’d be surprised to be him defeated. Captain Guinness clearly possesses quite the engine, but he raced far too freely in the Arkle and until he learns to race professionally, I can’t see him beating the big boys of the 2-mile chasing division. As for the others, I’m not convinced Janidil wants this step back in trip and both Embittered and Zarkareva have bundles to find on Official Ratings. Having backed Energumene for next year’s Ryanair at 25/1, I’m hoping he bolts here and Willie steps him up in trip next season.
Magic can run her rivals into a Daze
The penultimate race of the day is an interesting Listed race for novice mares over 2 miles. A few of these raced each other Cheltenham and I believe Magic Daze 9/4 will confirm the form. She looks a highly progressive filly to me and despite running wide and freely through the early parts of the Mares Novices, she only found Tellmesomethinggirl too good on the day. Both Hook Up and Gauloise were well beaten that day but the pair did show improved form in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse. That run came over an extra half mile though and I believe the pair may have improved for the step up in trip, especially Gauloise. The drop back to 2 miles may not see them in the best light whereas Magic Daze looks a proper two miler at this stage in her career. Bigbadandbeautiful has long been a mare I have held in high regard and she was impressive on hurdles debut. Like the Mullins pair, I do believe she may want a little further to be seen at her very best though.
Connections of Bob Olinger may have another good one on their hands
A good-looking bumper concludes Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival and I am hoping we may see some very useful types. Dysart Dynamo looked a hot prospect on debut for Team Mullins and could be anything after cruising to a comfortable success. He is likely to attract plenty of support, but I think Henry De Bromhead has a runner to challenge him for both favouritism and the race. Grand Jury 5/2, running in the same colours as Bob Olinger, won his bumper in similarly impressive fashion and demonstrated a fine turn of foot to shoot clear from his rivals. The form of both his and Dysart Dynamo’s Bumper wins wouldn’t look overly strong so making a comparison is tricky. Patrick Mullins did ride both to their respective successes, so extreme market support for the Willie Mullins inmate could be a big clue. I thought Grand Jury looked a little bit special though and I will side with him at around 5/2.
By Sam Rideout
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