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OPPOSITES ATTRACT can land the opening Beginners Chase on the Punchestown card this Thursday for Dermot McLoughlin and Conor Maxwell. The near eight-year-old has been extremely consistent over the past year, which included victories over hurdles at Down Royal twice last December and January.
He’s done well in three starts over fences to date, finishing third to Latest Exhibition and second to Gigginstown runners, Assemble and Conflated. He was previously third to Monkfish in his sole point-to-point at Stowlin and he’ll have enough in the tank today to win here from Longhouse Poet and The Big Dog.
The Willie Mullins team are enjoying a wonderful Christmas period with BACHASSON looking more than capable of returning to action over hurdles and providing Mullins and jockey Paul Townend with another winner this week. The near 10-year-old returned from a break to land the Clonmel Oil Chase from the front in excellent fashion in November and this looks a good opportunity of continuing his winning run.
Despite being rated 4lbs lower than Darasso over hurdles, both are running off level weights today and Bachasson comes here in better form. I’d expect similar front running tactics to Clonmel with Bachasson dominating from the front to score under Townend, while both City Island and Scarpeta are two interesting rivals who could surprise and chase home our selection at some bigger prices.
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Edward Harty won this handicap hurdle for J.P McManus with Sort It Out in 2014 and can do so again this year with DAMALISQUE. Having been off the track for two-years, the near eight-year-old returned on the level at the Curragh in October to finish second to Mt Leinster before going off favourite for a Naas handicap hurdle under Simon Torrens in mid-November.
The son of Linda’s Lad was backed from 7/2 into 5/2 favourite on the show but could only finish second yet again. Despite a 5lbs rise (to 123) in the ratings today, Mark Walsh takes over to hopefully gain some compensation and give the trio another victory in this contest.
Elsewhere, the frustrating to follow Debuchet remains the main danger for Gavin Cromwell now back in handicap company following his latest second here in a novice hurdle earlier this month.
We saw a 66/1 winner of this race last year and the closing race of 2020 hasn’t been a great contest for favourite backers with only three winning over the past decade. This renewal doesn’t look the strongest in terms of long-term major superstars, but looks competitive with Angels Dawn, Red As Rust, Humble Glory and Suil Alainn all lively players.
It’s perhaps hard at a quick glance of this race to look past Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd with Humble Glory, who finished a good second on her rules debut over hurdles at Tramore. However, ANGELS DAWN gets the verdict here with Derek O’Connor back in the saddle for trainer Sam Curling.
Despite several defeats to date, she stayed on nicely to finish fourth in a listed mares bumper at Navan last month and will appreciate the extra couple of furlongs here to hopefully secure her maiden and give the Curling team another winner this week.
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