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It’s the last day of action at the Punchestown Festival and so far it’s been the Willie Mullins show! I believe we can find a few non-Willie Mullins runners that might win though. There are some really tough handicaps on Saturday, but because of that there might be some bigger-priced winners!
Jesse Harrington has been among the winners this week and NEVERUSHACON has won over the course and distance. He ran well at Wexford recently and won a nice race at this venue in November. It was different ground of course, but he does like this track.
Freewheelin Dylan is returning after his Irish Grand National success at Fairyhouse and should run well again. He is up a little in the weights, but he will like the ground. You also know if you back him, he should give you a good run for your money out in front.
I believe the value play is in FORZA MILAN though, he has contested plenty of competitive handicaps and really acquitted himself well when he won at Fairyhouse in January. He has run some good races and off his handicap mark he can be really competitive in this.
I have taken Willie Mullins on a bit this week and its been a pointless exercise! This filly CONCERTISTA is to be ridden by his son Patrick. She should win this and help Mullins Jnr secure the amateurs jockey’s title.
I won this race a few times in my riding days and we have the Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios against the favourite that day and one-time stablemate ZANAHIYR. I can’t believe that was Zanahiyr’s true running and I am sticking with him in the hope he can bounce back.
Saint Sam was narrowly beaten into second by Jeff Kidder in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham and Paul Townend has chosen to ride stablmate Haut En Couleurs instead, which is interesting.
TEN TEN whipped around at the start the other day, but he gets another chance and this is a good prize to win. It’s a tight call as he is closely matched with Scoir Mear on previous runnings. Popong is interesting for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. She fell when challenging last time, but this ground is right up her street. I am sticking with Ten Ten though!
This is a cracker of a handicap! THE SHUNTER has done us a few good turns this season and it would be silly to desert him now. He won the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November, then won at Kelso before landing the £100k bonus at Cheltenham for previous connections before JP McManus bought him. He’s been placed in a Grade One over fences and now back over hurdles off this mark, he will still be competitive.
Emmet Mullins’ other runner Cape Gentleman is interesting. Lightly race over hurdles, he could still be well handicapped, but may want a little further in trip than 2m 4f. Gabynako was heavily backed at Cheltenham for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, but unseated his rider at the first obstacle and is another to consider.
The Shunter gets the nod though.
Jordan Gainford has been booked to ride TUCANAE, and she has run some good races at decent tracks this season. She ran well at this venue in February, so I am sticking with her.
GUILY BILLY was a £310,000 buy at the sales and this son of Coastal Path and point-to-point winner can start repaying some of that now.
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