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I’ve got chills, and I’m not talking about the arctic weather that is currently blasting us. Rather, my chills come from the field for the John Durkan Chase in Punchestown on Sunday.
It’s usually a well contested race to be fair, but this looks an exceptionally classy and competitive renewal. We also get our first sight of Chacun Pour Soi this season. He contests the ‘Willie Mullins Benefit Chase’ in Cork.
It’s a very exciting Sunday in store, even if the weather forecast is grim. Expect testing conditions at both venues. Here are a few selections that will hopefully warm our hearts and wallets.
We begin with the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. There’s an obvious temptation just to sit back and enjoy this without a bet, but The hunt for value never ends. I feel like there is a way into this race.
Min is on a hat-trick in this particular contest, he’s rising 10lbs though and will be piloted by Patrick Mullins here. That’s a downgrade from Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend, while Chris’s Dream probably wants further.
Allaho has tended to need his comeback run in the past and I don’t trust Melon or Samcro. Mind you, I said the same thing before last season’s Marsh Chase in Cheltenham. BATTLEOVERDOYEN looks overpriced and he comes here on the back of an impressive comeback victory over the talented and consistent Easy Game.
That was hugely encouraging after finishing last season with a whimper and I’m not sure what happened in Leopardstown, but the Cheltenham effort is forgivable. He wouldn’t be the first horse not to take to that place. He’s a brilliant jumper, and while not proven on heavy ground, he should relish this stamina test.
The handicap hurdle is moderate fare, but BROOMFIELDS JEREMY should go close here. As mentioned before, I’m always on the lookout for the progeny of Broomfields Jeremy when the going gets tough. This horse has been steadily progressive in his eight-race career and the handicapper looks to have taken a civilised line in allocating him an opening mark of 118.
His jumping is a concern and some sloppy leaps proved costly the last day in Kilbeggan. That was a good run all he same. The second that day has since given the form a big boost, though it’s probably best not to take that literally.
Broomfields Jeremy promises to be suited by the step up in trip, while connections can be hopeful that he will soon be plying his trade in higher grade. With an extra place on offer here, he looks a solid each-way play.
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Over to Cork and the graded novice hurdle at 14:30 looks a competitive affair. Darrens Hope is bound to be popular after her recent course and distance romp, but I’m just not convinced by that form. The reopposing Ragnar Lodbrok, second that day, put in an abysmal round of jumping, so SAYCE GOLD gets the vote here.
This mare took to hurdling like a duck to water when winning last time out in Thurles, however this is a big step up in grade. It’s encouraging that her shrewd trainer thinks she’s ready for it and this race promises to be run at a decent pace, that should help her to settle. Testing ground holds no terrors for her and it’s hard to believe there will be a better jumper in the race. She gets weight from all of her obvious rivals. She may be slightly missed in the market and I expect a big run.
We get an extra place in this handicap hurdle, where SATIN SUN will be my each-way bet. This horse proved popular in the betting on handicap debut in Thurles last time out and her supporters would have been on good terms with themselves for most of the race.
Unfortunately, she got a bit tapped for toe late on, but she did plug on gamely for second. Sunday’s step up in trip looks a positive on that evidence and her trainer knows the time of day. The money Satin Sun attracted in Thurles suggests connections believe they have a well handicapped horse on their hands. Off just a 2lbs higher mark here, hopefully she can prove them right.
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