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Punchestown preview

Updated: Friday, 11 Jan 2013 16:24 | Comments

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend head to Punchestown with several fancied runners
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend head to Punchestown with several fancied runners

Willie Mullins appears to have a stranglehold on the Grade Three Visit punchestown.com For All Our Offers Juvenile Hurdle.

The champion trainer is responsible for French imports Diakali and Dogora, who made successful Irish debuts at Gowran Park and Limerick respectively.

Chief opposition comes in the shape of the Gordon Elliott-trained Leopardstown winner Flaxen Flare, although Faanan Aldaar offered encouragement with last week's Cork second.

Jumping newcomer Baby Jake completes the line-up, but was less than moderate on the level.

Mullins is also double-handed in the Free Festival Ticket Upgrade Now On Hurdle, with Pickapocketortwo and Sergent Guib's returning from absences.

Fully Funded is probably the one they have to beat, though Shrapnel is on an upward curve and Si C'Etait Vrai will appreciate the drop back from three miles.

Rockyaboya paid his way during his first campaign for Mullins and returns to action in the Follow Us On Facebook & Twitter Handicap Hurdle.

The Amateur National For The Conyngham Cup (QR) Handicap Chase switches from its usual spot at the Festival to here, and Paul Nolan steps his point-to-point winner Panther Claw out of novice company for the first time.

His owners, Gigginstown House Stud, are represented in the opening Festival Hospitality From 99 Euros Beginners Chase (12.35) by Toostrong, who was last seen pulling up in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Thurles in March.

Noel Meade's Johannisberger sets the standard over fences, and his stable companion Curley Bill will have his supporters as he takes on the consistent but exposed Champagne Agent and the well-regarded Some Article in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.

Take A Shot just got the better of Popaflora at Down Royal on St Stephen's Day and they lock horns again in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase, with Popaflora 3lb better off for a length-and-a-half defeat.

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