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Bob Olinger, the hot antepost favourite for the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, is set for a stiff test of his credentials at Punchestown on Sunday.
Henry de Bromhead’s emerging superstar is one of eight runners declared for the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase, a race won in recent years by the likes of Vautour, Yorkhill and Envoi Allen.
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Rachael Blackmore has been booked to ride Bob Olinger, who comfortably landed his Beginners Chase at Gowran Park in November. The form of that race has since been franked by the third, Master McShee, winning the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase on Boxing Day.
Naas Beginners Chase scorer Capodanno and Grade 1-winning hurdler Gaillard Du Mesnil look set to provide the main opposition at Punchestown. The latter of Willie Mullins’ runners was 7½l behind Bob Olinger in last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, however.
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West Cork Wildway beat the likes of The Bosses Oscar and Stratum to win a Beginners Chase at Thurles on his last start, while Lifetime Ambition and Lieutenant Command have both scored over fences this season. Forged In Fire and Gallant John Joe are the outsiders in our betting.
Sunday’s card at Punchestown also features the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at 12.15pm.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle favourite Dysart Dynamo is the standout name in the seven-runner field. Stablemate Hawai Game and Henry de Bromhead’s Guily Billy won maiden hurdles on their last starts, while Gordon Elliott’s Gringo D’aubrelle was third in last month’s Challow Novices’ Hurdle.
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Kildare Novice Chase Runners and Riders
Bob Olinger (Rachael Blackmore)
Capodanno (Mark Walsh)
Forged In Fire (Jack Kennedy)
Gaillard Du Mesnil (Paul Townend)
Gallant John Joe (Barry Browne)
Lieutenant Command (Sean Flanagan)
Lifetime Ambition (Sean O’Keeffe)
West Cork Wildway (Darragh O’Keeffe)
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