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The second day of the Punchestown Festival is upon us, with the Punchestown Gold Cup taking centre stage on an eight-race schedule.
Minella Indo has withdrawn with injury, however, Al Boum Photo, Kemboy and Clan Des Obeaux are all raring to go.
Top pundit Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power Trader Frank Hickey assessed the Punchestown card on the latest edition of Paddy Power’s From the Horses Mouth podcast, focusing on this week’s showcase Festival that brings the curtain down on the Irish jumps season.
Oscar Thyne looks interesting here. He pitched into his first handicap off a mark of 116. He won a maiden hurdle at Kilbeggan back in September and won a beginners chase at Clonmel, both of those races weren’t on terrible ground.
I think good ground here will suit and is he a half-brother to Up For Review, who was a Grade 2 winner over hurdles for Willie Mullins. Conor McNamara is an excellent jockey and he’s on board – I think Oscar Thyne has solid each way claims.
Heather Rocco is likely to be favourite based on his rating of 134 with Rachel Blackmore on board. I do think he appreciated dropping to 2m at Limerick last time but he has won at this sort of trip.
Both wins came at Limerick but disappointed in between at Thurles. It always worries me when a horse takes so well to Limerick and runs below form elsewhere.
Surprise Package caught the eye on his second start over hurdles at Fairyhouse when third behind Full Time Score (caught the stewards eye also). He ran a cracker at Fairyhouse last time when second at 33/1 to El Barra with subsequent easy Kilbeggan winner, Buddy Rich was back in third.
Were El Barra to run in this race, he would be favourite or close to it and Surprise Package might be a little underestimated here, as going back up in trip on better ground looks sure to suit.
Willie Mullins has won the last three renewals of this race and looks to have a great chance of making it four in a row with Blue Sari.
Blue Sari was top class in bumpers, finding only Envoi Allen too strong in the Champion Bumper. He beat The Bosses Oscar on his hurdles debut at Punchestown in November 2019 but was disappointing in two subsequent starts that season.
He was off until the DRF when needing the run and then was in the process of running a cracker in the Coral Cup when falling at the last hurdle when looking booked for second. If he is over that fall he should take the beating with Decimation the danger.
I’m willing to forgive Gentlemansgame his poor run at Fairyhouse over 2m4f. He was impressive on hurdles debut over 2m at Cork and finished an excellent second over 2m6f in the Grade 1 at the DRF where he outstayed Stattler for second. It’s worth noting that Vanillier was well beaten that day.
Minella Indo did follow up his Albert Bartlett victory with a win here as a novice hurdler and I thought he was the one to beat but he is now a non-runner.
Instead, I’ll take a chance for Al Boum Photo who was over five lengths behind Minella Indo in the Gold Cup. I think he was a little below his best there.
He was second here to Kemboy in 2019 but was going to the win the Novice Grade 1 over 3m, so I don’t think the track is any issue for him.
Sir Gerhard did benefit from an excellent ride by Rachael in the Champion Bumper but he definitely has more natural pace.
His rival in this one, Kilcruit, is more of a staying type. As a result, I think that conditions will play more to Sir Gerhard’s strengths and that he will uphold the form.
Dunvegan won at the Punchestown Festival in 2018 in a bumper and had been second in a bumper here to Hollowgraphic earlier that season. Three other course runs have seen him register a win and two places, so this track suits.
He ran well in the Topham when sixth but really don’t think going left handed suits him. He was fourth here earlier in the season off 139 when he had Daly Tiger, Tornado Flyer and Castlebawn West in front of him.
Back on this track he looks to have solid each-way claims with Paddy Power paying six places.
Manisanda ran a cracker on her debut when third, beaten 4l behind Letsbeclearaboutit at Fairyhouse when 50/1. Worth noting that Harry Alonzo was second, who is also really useful.
Lorna Folwer had Politesse run well in decent bumpers last season and I might play her each way here.
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