Ahead of the start of the Puncestown Festival, Ruby Walsh spoke on RTÉ's Game On, where he offered his thoughts on the Tuesday's and Wednesday's Grade One contests.
Tuesday 4.15 eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle
With no Appreciate It, I'd say Paul Townend has gone for Blue Lord because he finished second to Bob Olinger and was going to finish second to Appreciate It at Cheltenham when he fell at the last. They're the two outstanding novices.
He's gone for Blue Lord probably on that basis, but Echoes In Rain was incredibly impressive at Fairyhouse where Paul rode her but he still opts for Blue Lord.
Blue Lord I think wants every yard of two miles and I fear Paul might have got it wrong, but there's not much point in me suggesting that he has or he hasn't.
In this race I rode Melon and David Mullins beat me on Cilaos Emery so I’ve picked the wrong one plenty of times myself.
Tuesday 5.25 William Hill Champion Chase
Chacun Pour Soi and Paul Townend are probably the ones to watch. Chacun Pour Soi definitely disappointed at the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, there's no doubt about it.
He got a great run through off the home turn on the inside of Put The Kettle On. He jumped the second last and the race was there for the taking but he faded and he faded back to finish third.
The horse that finished second, Nube Negra, runs again here. Dan Skelton brings him over and Harry Skelton rides him, he’s third favourite but for whatever reason Paul is adamant Chacun Pour Soi at Cheltenham underperformed at Cheltenham.
He had no hesitation in sticking with him over Allaho, who won the Ryanair Chase Rachael Blackmore won the Ryanair on him at Cheltenham and he’s dropping down half a mile in trip.
I think the early exchanges will be key here. Both of these horses will buck out to go and whichever one can get on top in the first half mile will probably be the one that sees it out.
If you’re pushing me, I think Chacun could probably be a bit faster than Allaho.
Tuesday 6.30 Dooley Insurance Group Champions Novice Chase
It's a heavyweight clash between Envoi Allen and Monkfish.
Envoi Allen went to the Marsh Novice Chase at Cheltenham, Monkfish went to the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, they’re the two top novice chasers, they haven’t clashed all year and here they are meeting at Punchestown. It will be fascinating.
Colreevy runs as well, she’s had a fantastic season and there’s Franco De Port. There’s only four runners but it’s about the big two.
People will be torn as to which one they believe in. I would think Envoi Allen is a slightly quicker horse, but I have no doubt that Monkfish might be the strongest there.
It will come down to how or what Paul Townend and Rachael Blackmore do.
Wednesday 5.20 Irish Mirror Novices Hurdle
It's Cheltenham form taking each other on. Vanillier was the winner of the Albert Bartlett and Galopin Des Champs won the Martin Pipe.
The handicapper thinks they similar horses rated at 150.
I was taken with Galopin Des Champs at Cheltenham when Sean O’Keefe rode him and I thought it was a good performance.
Vanillier dominated all the way under Mark Walsh in the Albert Bartlett but I think a lot of horses underperformed behind him in that race.
I don’t think Stattler ran to the best of his ability or Streets of Doyen or Fakiera. So I think a few underperformed in his race.
Obviously Rachael Blackmore rides Tells Me Something, but she’s stepping up from two miles to three so I’m not too sure she’ll stay.
I think Galopin Des Champs has a huge future. Of all the races we’ve discussed, I think this will be the one Paul Townend is looking forward to.
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
Wednesday 5.55pm Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup Chase
Paul Nicholls has supplemented in Clan Des Obeaux. I'm not sure what the cost was but it cost a good few quid to supplement in.
Al Boum Photo, did he underperform in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or is that just the maximum of his ability? It's hard to know but Clan Des Obeaux was very good at Aintree on his last start when Harry Cobden rode him.
Harry obviously got injured and Sam Twiston-Davis will take over.
Then you have Kemboy who was brilliant at Leopardstown, he was very good here at this race two years ago and he underperformed in the Gold Cup. That’s probably the third or fourth time he’s underperformed at the Cheltenham Festival.
It’ll be an interesting one. You have Fakir D'oudairies in there as well, who was very good winner of the Melling Chase at Aintree and you have Melon who, for the first time, ran bad at Cheltenham. But his run at Christmas behind A Plus Tard and Kemboy gives him a chance.
Even without Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, it’s still a very race and it’s an opportunity for Al Boum Photo to get back to winning ways but you never know what sort of a mark the Gold Cup exertions have left on the horse.
Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy just might be a bit fresher.
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