The lightly raced CAPTAIN GUINNESS can finally get his head in front this calendar year and land this opening beginners chase for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. He returns after a break following an unfortunate display over fences at Tipperary when pulled-up and found to be clinically abnormal post-race.
His previous form over hurdles reads well having finished second to Andy Dufresne in graded company here in January, before been brought down when travelling strongly in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Jungle Junction comes here after a recent third place finished at Cheltenham and should reach the frame for Jessica Harrington on a first start over fences.
ARVERNE has progressed nicely in recent runs and can provide in-form trainer Gavin Cromwell with another winner under Mark Walsh for owner JP McManus. He wasn’t beaten far when fourth at Wexford in March and stepped up in trip on return at Punchestown in October when second as a beaten favourite to Deadbeat.
The five-year-old runs off a 2lbs higher mark on Friday (112) and looks capable of winning an average handicap chase against this opposition. Elsewhere, Atlantic Shore looks interesting stepping up in trip on his handicap debut for Philip Fenton, while it’s also worth watching the betting market for Alpine Cobra – who comes here for the Charles Byrnes’ team with a very similar profile.
Despite having his 11th career start over hurdles today, ENVIOUS EDITOR has done enough in his three recent stars for new trainer Gordon Elliott to finally secure his maiden. The Robcour owned six-year-old finished third at Listowel in September on his first start for Elliott, before again coming third at Clonmel and running second at Naas last month.
He came up against a nice horse in Gabynako on his recent start and those three autumn efforts are more than good enough to win this. Captain Kangaroo is the obvious danger for Willie Mullins, but has 7 lengths to make up on the Elliott runner having clashed at Naas. Hes A Hardy Bloke should finish third for Noel Meade having been outclassed behind Ballyadam at Down Royal in late October.
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I’m happy to stick with FIGHTING FIT here for Phillip Dempsey having put up the selection on Thursday when failing to race as first reserve at Tramore. The drop back in trip is a nice positive having faded into seventh place at Fairyhouse over 2m 4f last month. He uses a tongue-tie for the first time and should go close under jockey Luke Dempsey at an each-way price.
Elsewhere, the blinkers could help Vitudurum for Joe Murphy following good recent runs at Fairyhouse and Thurles, with Trixie Mc another serious contender. The mount of Rachael Blackmore was beaten by a couple of nicely handicapped runners, Klassy Kay and Big King at Fairyhouse and Navan last month.
This looks a wide-open affair, with R’EVELYN PLEASURE looking a good each-way contender for Sean O’Brien and Donagh Meyler with cheekpieces applied for the first-time today. The eight-year-old returned from a break to finish sixth behind Dreal Deal at Cork in early November before improving to finish third when stepping up in trip at Thurles three-weeks ago.
The son of Getaway seemed to appreciate the extra-distance and has previous good form around this trip over both hurdles and fences – he’s rated much lower over hurdles (111 today) to this current chase mark and should be in the mix at the business end. Elsewhere, Broomfields Jeremy, Bold Emperor and Above The City are just three others with nice chances among a competitive field.
The closing bumper at Punchestown this Friday sees the three best amateurs still riding – Patrick Mullins, Jamie Codd and Derek O’Connor – all doing battle. ASLUKWOODHAVIT, a half-brother to Twobeelucky gets the tentative vote because Willie Mullins has dominated this race over the past decade with six winners in the past nine years. The Roger Brookhouse owned runner won’t have to be a world beater to win on debut for the champion trainer and will surely be in the mix.
Elsewhere, Champagne Sparkles races on debut for Jamie Codd and Gordon Elliott and comes from the family of Sire Du Berlais. Derek O’Connor rides Peter Fahey’s newcomer Ambitious Fellow who should represent some value, while Blazing Khal, Jody Ted and The Bangor Doyle all have previous racecourse experience.
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