The first day of Punchestown looks a doozy. Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Dan Skelton have grasped the nettle. This has resulted in two top class, competitive Grade 1 races for us to enjoy. There may be a few showers on the day. They shouldn't have much impact on the current going description of good to yielding. The surface has been watered in the run-up to the meeting. We should get no-excuses spring ground.
3.40 Organ Donation Handicap Hurdle
Light Brigade looks a horse going places. He travelled strongly through the race when winning last time out. He was probably value for more than the winning distance and the form has been boosted since. A nine pound rise doesn't look excessive in the circumstances. The quicker ground here is a note of concern but we can't have everything. Top Line Tommy races off a dangerous looking mark if jumping better here.
Selection: Light Brigade 13-2
4.15 eComm Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle
There isn't a lot of pace on here. That could compromise the chance of both Echoes In Rain and Blue Lord. Both are keen-going types. It's hard to enthuse about any of the opposition, mind you. Willie Mullins duo will probably fight out the finish. Marginal preference is for Echoes In Rain. This progressive mare can make her sex allowance tell.
Selection: Echoes In Rain 5-6
4.50 Kilashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle
Jazzaway hasn't been seen since a narrow defeat in Galway last July. She does have a good record fresh though. That Galway race proved strong form. She should be competitive off a six pound higher mark here. Conor McNamara's claim can't hurt either. Gentleman De Mee heads a host of potential dangers. He disappointed in Cheltenham but is clearly considered a well-handicapped horse.
Selection: Jazzaway 11-1
5.35 William Hill Champion Chase
A corking renewal. Allaho put up arguably the performance of the Cheltenham Festival. His Ryanair Chase demolition will live long in the memory. Whether he can back that up over the minimum trip here must be open to question. Chacun Pour Soi was bitterly disappointing in the Champion Chase. That form looks highly suspect though. It was turned on its head in Sandown last weekend. Chacun Pour Soi is the best two mile chaser in training. Nube Negra was unlucky in the aforementioned Champion Chase. I'm not sure how good he is but the strong tempo of this race should play to his strengths. He can complete the forecast.
Selection: Chacun Pour Soi 6-5
5.55 Goffs Land Rover Bumper
A complete guess-up. Those that have run don't set a particularly exacting standard. All For Rachel cost a few quid and represents a shrewd yard.
Selection: All For Rachel 25-1
6.30 Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase
A clash for the ages. Monkfish showed some previously non-existent jumping frailties when winning at the Cheltenham Festival. Expect a more fluent round of fencing here. Envoi Allen's jumping in Cheltenham had much more severe consequences. Any horse can make a mistake. It's possible that the stable switch has unnerved the horse. It's far too early to be sure though. His pre-race demeanour will be heavily scrutinised. He remains the most exciting chaser in training to my eye. On this speed favouring track he may just have too many guns for Monkfish.
Selection: Envoi Allen 5-4
7.00 Kildare Hunt Club Ladies Cup
Youcannotbeserious was second in last year's renewal of this race. He should go close again. His stablemate Saint Benedict will probably provide the sternest resistance.
Selection: Youcannotbeserious 4-5
7.35 Irish Field INH Flat Race
Hara Kiri is clearly held in some regard. He was backed off the boards on his debut in Gowran Park. He was disappointing that day but his powerful stable know the time of day in bumpers. It will be interesting to see how he goes in the market here. Glowing Account is first reserve. Given such a big field, he must have a decent chance of getting a run. He would be most feared if that proves the case.
Selection: Hara Kiri 7-4
On the eve of the Punchestown Festival, @Ruby_Walsh tells the full story of his surprise retirement after winning the 2019 Gold Cup on Kemboy | Watch #PTown21 live on RTE2 and @RTEPlayer from Tuesday to Saturday pic.twitter.com/wNsbXWhBg5— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) April 26, 2021
Watch the Punchestown Festival live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from Tuesday to Saturday.