Punchestown is upon us.
A week to test both a man's stamina, and his purse. The usual quota of equine heroics, should keep spirits high. Hopefully backing a couple of those heroes, will take care of the expenses.
Two bumpers, a banks race, and a competitive handicap, will test the wits of punters tomorrow. The Grade 1's look more straightforward, but are not without their own intrigues.
3.40: Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Steeplechase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup
Run for the Ladies Perpetual Cup. The near perpetual presence of Enniskillen in the race, continues this year. The 14 yr old certainly wasn't beaten when coming to grief last year. He can't be dismissed, but others are preferred. The obvious selection should be Blue Templar. A fast finishing second in the race last season, he comes here on the back of a point to point tune up. He's only an eight year old. Blinkered last year, banks king Enda Bolger tries him in cheekpieces this time around.
There is a wrinkle though. Isn't there always? Derek O'Connor, who rode Blue Templar to finish second last year, seemingly prefers stablemate Youcannotbeserious. That horse hasn't run in 18 months, and has never run over banks in public. He's obviously showing plenty at home, and coming from those quarters, is bound to be well drilled. I'll stick with proven form. The rider conundrum, means a bigger price than expected.
Selection: Blue Templar 11/4
4.20: Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
Really hard to get away from the obvious claims of Klassical Dream. He arrived in Cheltenham, off the back of two decent efforts at Leopardstown. Those runs weren't suggestive of the festival fireworks he produced though. He nearly bolted to post, and didn't prove any more amenable to restraint during the race.
I fully expected those exertions, to take a toll late in the race. Not a bit of it. He ran clean away from the opposition. A couple of his victims that day, went on to give the form a solid look at Aintree.
Assuming he doesn't bounce off the back of such a big effort, he should repeat the dose tomorrow. Felix Desjy should ensure a good pace to aim at. The opposition seem much of a muchness. Mister Blue Sky might be worth chancing for the forecast. He seems to be getting the hang of things, and will also enjoy the likely strong gallop.
Selection: Klassical Dream 8/11
4.55: Killashee Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)
A trappy heat. Keep an eye out for bookmakers offering an extra place. Golden Spear heads the weights. A talented, if fragile sort, he is unlikely to lack for fitness, despite being off since November. He was a most impressive winner that day.
Eoin O'Connell smuggled the Spear around Down Royal. He picked off the heavily backed favourite two from home, and won snugly. The handicapper hasn't missed him. A 10 pound rise isn't to be sniffed at. On flat form, he's probably still well weighted though. A strongly run race, over two miles, is just the ticket.
He is the best horse in this race, and can defy the weight rise. Credible opposition is plentiful. Sancta Simona, and Pearl Of The West, head the list of alternatives.
Punchestown is "My Town" - Ruby Walsh on what the Irish National Hunt Festival means to him @punchestownrace @RTE2 #rteracing pic.twitter.com/bHQIDAo44C— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) April 29, 2019
Selection: Golden Spear 6/1
5.30: BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase (Grade 1)
How do you solve a problem like Min? On the face of it, his 20 length demolition of Politologue, was a sensational run. However, all his previous form suggests that effort flatters.
There seemed to be a pace bias that day. With that performance heavily built into the price, he looks worth opposing. Un De Sceaux looks the obvious alternative.
The UDS jumped the opposition silly in this race last year. His seasonal comeback, behind Altior, suggested the fire still burns bright. A subsequent disappointment in the Ryanair, needs forgiving. I've never been convinced Cheltenham is his track. It's of course possible, that age has finally wearied him. At the prices, one last hurrah is worth chancing.
Selection: Un De Sceaux 10/3
6.05: Goffs Land Rover Bumper
Very little to go on. Best to tighten those purse strings. Robert Tyner has a fine record in this race. It's a valuable prize, and it seems likely that this shrewd outfit target the race.
His Fiston De Becon, cost €50,000 as a three year old. Derek O'Connor probably wasn't short of options here. The fact he takes the ride, is probably a hint worth taking.
Selection: Fiston De Becon 4/1
6.40: Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1)
Delta Work heads the market. Rightly so. His close third in the RSA, represents strong form. His tendency to clout the odd fence remains a concern. A Plus Tard bolted up in a festival handicap. He won't find it easy to bully tomorrow's opponents.
At the prices, I'll plump for Getabird. The best of these over hurdles, he hasn't done much wrong over fences. He beat Articulum on fencing bow, and was unlucky to go down narrowly at Limerick. He has to go right handed.
As a consequence, he missed the other Spring festivals, and arrives here fresher than most. His stamina isn't assured, but there's nothing to say he won't improve for a step up in trip.
Selection: Getabird 5/1
7.15: Sanctuary Synthetics Flat Race
Another bumper. Another mystery. You'll probably find me at the bar. Farceur Du Large is evidently held in high regard. He rates a token pick, to justify that faith.
Selection: Farceur Du Large 9/2