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A rescheduled card at Punchestown for punters to look forward to this Monday, and we get going with a cracking Grade 3 Quevega Mares Hurdle over 2m 4f. Willie Mullins has absolutely farmed this race in recent years, winning no fewer than seven of the last 10 renewals. He could have the answer again here with GREAT WHITE SHARK.
Malcolm Denmark’s versatile seven-year-old showed her class when landing The Cesarewitch in fine style at Newmarket under Jason Watson. But, she is also an accomplished hurdler whose most recent success was in a competitive handicap around Galway back in July. Her latest run in the Galmoy was a disappointing, but the ground was very testing and she can be forgiven that poor run.
Black Tears is the obvious threat on ratings, and Gordon Elliott’s charge has been running with huge credit recently in good races. This race could turn into a slog between these two and I’d take Great White Shark’s stamina to come out on top.
A big field head to post for the ultra-competitive Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) over 3 miles, and it may just pay to back one of the lower weights. MILLINER ran a very nice race at Navan back in January after a lengthy absence, staying on from a long way back and with that extra fitness up his sleeve, he could be the one for this very tricky puzzle.
Henry De Bromhead is masterful at bringing these horses back to their best and Milliner was out of action for over two years before that encouraging comeback run. Milliner has got course winning form and was also second in a Listed novice hurdle at Cork over today’s trip.
Milliner is a very lightly raced gelding and is potentially the biggest improver in this field. He’s proven over this trip and can run a big race getting weight from most of these.
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The penultimate race on the card is another fiendishly tough handicap hurdle, this time over 2m 4f. You could make a case for half a dozen or so of these, but ROYAL RHYTHM’s run behind Hilltop Supreme at Fairyhouse last time out caught the eye.
As a five-year-old, he is more open to improvement than others and could be the each-way play here. Philip Rothwell’s runner raced prominently throughout on that occasion and just ran out of steam over the last to come home in third place. It was a good effort that built on the previous promise he had shown when fourth in handicap hurdle around Limerick back in December.
Royal Rhythm is a horse that is seemingly going in the right direction since these new front-running tactics were used. I expect this progression to continue and Royal Rhythm can again be involved in the finish at decent odds.
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