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Another hugely competitive handicap hurdle and I’ll put two up each-way against the field. It’s Interesting that trainer Edward O’Grady has booked Rachael Blackmore to ride the nine-year-old Shakeytry who has been mixing it between chasing and hurdling and is still attractively rated on 114.
He looks pretty versatile ground wise too which is important as the weather is changeable. Charcor is now with Noel Kelly having been with Jessie Harrington and some really good Flat form to his name. He could be well handicapped also.
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Entoucas was unlucky in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham when getting hampered at a crucial time before finishing runner-up to Sky Pirate. He has been a model of consistency this season but is creeping up the weights all the time without winning.
The Henry De Bromhead-trained Raya Time ran well in a beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse on his most recent start and looks to be on an attractive mark. He gets my vote.
Enda Bolger was a master of these ‘banks’ races as a jockey around here and has a great record as a trainer in them too. Stand Up And Fight has mainly contested Hunter Chases but has not had much experience of the banks course at Punchestown. However, Bolger has his own banks course at his yard so Stand Up and Fight will be well prepared.
The Grade One Champion Stayers’ Hurdle is a quality contest with Paddy Power Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter at the head of the market. I’m glad to see Ronald Pump back in action though as I backed him ante post for Cheltenham, but he missed the race.
He was second to Lisnagar Oscar at Cheltenham the year before where he may have been a little unlucky in running and finished a half-length behind Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse last November. That looks fantastic form, he comes here a fresh horse and must have a great chance.
A 3m handicap hurdle and there’s plenty with chances. Willie Mullins’ Capodanno is very lightly raced and this French import made a mistake at the last at Fairyhouse in a really competitive affair before finishing fourth to Lady Breffni over this trip.
He could be competitively handicapped and in a wide-open race and with that big-field experience under his belt now, he has to be a player in this.
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Many thought that Energumene would topple Shishkin at the Cheltenham Festival, but he missed the Arkle Chase through injury. If that was the case, then this should be a much easier option to pass the post in front. He is better going right-handed too so everything is in his favour. His stablemate Janadil was a good winner of the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Fairyhouse for Jody McGarvey and having caught the eye as a hurdler, is making into a better chaser.
Magic Daze ran a great race at Cheltenham behind Telmesomethinggirl and finished in front of a few of these in the process and gets the verdict over them again. Hook Up has been running consistently all season and may be suited to this easier test than she was at Cheltenham.
The concluding bumper could be between the amateur title chasers Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins. When Grand Jury won at this track on slow ground, his time was by some way the fastest of the day That may give Henry de Bromhead’s runner the edge over the Mullins’ Dysart Dynamo.
Mick’s Punchestown tips
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