Preview: Punchestown Day Three

Elliott versus Mullins:

After two days of trading blows at Punchestown racecourse Willie Mullins still has a gap of £277k to bridge with just three days left to go in the trainer’s championship. Day one went to Willie when he reduced the gap by over £143k but Fayonagh and Champagne Classic helped put a halt to the Mullins comeback by landing a day two (Grade 1) double for Gordon Elliott.Punchestown 3

It’s building towards crunch time in the week and all faith could be decided today as Nichols Canyon (Mullins) faces off against Sutton Place (Elliott) in the big race of day three (Ladbrokes Champions Stayers Hurdle) worth over £147k to the winner.

When discussing Mullins versus Elliott it must be highlighed the impressive nature in which Fayonagh won the Irish Champion Bumper on day two. After such a huge effort in Cheltenham, having almost ran an extra furlong than every other horse in the bumper and to still come out victorious was heavy weight stuff. I was unsure If she could back it up yesterday. My God I was proved wrong , this was without question the performance of the week.

There is nothing more beautiful in racing than the spectacle of a talented mare going hammer and thongs from pillar to post up front like she did today. Showing a devastating turn of foot off the bend also, this girl looks the real deal.

dawn run fayonagh

In the aftermath Gordon all but confirmed hurdles was the plan for next season, mentioning on RTE “ She’s already schooled and she jumps very well”,  Ted Walsh “She could be another Dawn Run”. If you aren’t an Anti-Post lover or backing horses for the year ahead isn’t your style of punting maybe you should consider this once. Priced at 10/1 (Supreme Novices 2018) against the geldings, she’s a superstar.

Ryanair Novices Chase (2m) 18:40:

Who’s idea was it to send GREAT FIELD (5/4) over fences? Willie Mullins? Frank Berry perhaps? For health and safety reasons I’m not entirely sure it was the wisest choice but nevertheless we are where we are, this horse looks freakishly talented and wins this If he stays up.

You’d like to believe his jumping could improve with time and he could make up into a Queen Mother contender but similar to his stable mate Un De Sceaux when he started over fences his aggressive but reckless approach could perhaps be his downfall.

Now rated 159 as a novice he hasn’t far to go to reach the very top. Without exaggerating it was a miracle Jody McGarvey (who does a lot of his schooling work) stayed on board three times this season and he again has the task of getting around tomorrow.

Incase of an accident to the favourite,  Ballyoisin (7/1) could be your guilty each way alternative. Enda Bolger’s horse is still unexposed but remarkably beats Great Field 2-0 in falls over fences but again he’s exciting and himself could be destined for the very top.

Ladbrokes World Stayers Hurdle (3m) 17:30:

Everywhere we turned before Cheltenham we were hearing “Youknowhatimeanharry is a good thing”. For what Harry Fry’s horse had achieved leading into Prestbury and given the unexposed types in the line up, to me I thought he looked vulnerable to a better quality horse. A tough animal sure to run a solid race but far from a superstar and so it proved.

Today we get Nichols Canyon (5/2) an eleven time grade one winner who has proved both stamina and superiority to almost everything in here however one potential factor that could stop a repeat of glory could be if Cheltenham has taken a toll.

The World Hurdle over three miles can be brutal and we’ve seen with stayers such as Penhill and Sizing John yesterday, some Cheltenham horses sometimes fail pinch up here with the same level of spark or energy. Sizing John was workmanlike yesterday needing encouragement to pick up from three fences out which wasn’t the same horse we saw all season.

Coming back to the stayers hurdle today,  one horse that could upset the party is unexposed Gordon Elliott trained Sutton Place. It’s a step up in trip and grade for Gordon’s starlet, he is held in serious regard and we’ll see plenty of pundits raving about him when he does tackle fences.

Without winning eleven grade one races Sutton Place appears the only one capable of upsetting and perhaps ending the Mullins title challenge here. That is of course if the race is run to all known form which sometimes it does not at the Punchestown festival.

Willie Mullins does however have a few more bullets to fire here and a chance is taken on FOOTPAD (14/1) who looks a small bit of value having like Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham is having his first attempt at three miles.

In solid form this season the 5yo effort behind both Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown followed by a staying on 4th behind Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle suggest a step up in distance is what Footpad needs.At the prices he’s a win bet only as he’s not guaranteed to get the trip.

 Other Shoutouts:  

FRUITS OF GLORY (20/1) 15:40

Eddie Cawley gets them ready. A relatively small trainer in terms of numbers (training mostly for himself) , Eddie’s gallops and training facilities based near Dunshaughlin, Co.Meath match those of the best around.

This horse Fruits Of Glory has dropped to a mark of 109 OR from 123 OR in the space of two years. Generally to win a 30 runner handicap around the likes of Punchestown you’d more often than not need at least a stone in hand (13Ibs). Suspicion here tells me Fruits Of Glory may exceed that very requirement.

Chucked in is a phrase used to describe a horse well handicapped. Lady luck will also be a factor in a field like this.

Tully East (5/1) 16:05 –

This fellow will be popular today after his Cheltenham success over similar ground and trip. Gone up 9Ibs to 144 OR from his last Irish mark of 135 OR at Navan. He finished 2nd to Ball D’Arc that day who has since moved up the ranks.

Playing with Denis O’Regan coming down to the last at Cheltenham, Tully East arrived on the scene late swinging before being unleashed suggesting there was more than a stone in hand. Provided Cheltenham hasn’t left a mark, the drop to 2m should suit even better. Each way bet.

tully east

By Barry Doyle 27/04/2017

Best Bets:

Fruits Of Glory – 20/1 (Bet365) 15:40- 0.5 pts ew

Great Field – 11/10 (Paddy Powers) 15:40- 2pts win

Footpad – 14/1 (Paddy Powers) 18:40- 1pt win

Tully East – 5/1 (Paddy Powers) 16:15 – 1pt ew