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The second day of the Punchestown Festival is upon us, with the Punchestown Gold Cup taking centre stage on an eight-race schedule.
Minella Indo has withdrawn through injury, however, Al Boum Photo, Kemboy and Clan Des Obeaux are all raring to go.
Top pundit Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power Trader Frank Hickey assessed the Punchestown card on the latest edition of Paddy Power’s From the Horses Mouth podcast, focusing on this week’s showcase Festival that brings the curtain down on the Irish jumps season.
This is the final of the Adare Series – a series of races for Conditional Jockeys. It’s a really tricky handicap hurdle where the Philip Fenton-trained Stand Off looks set to run a big race. He only won by half a length at Fairyhouse but looked value for it. He beat Fox Fearless by just under a length, with the pair more than four lengths clear of Regina Dracones back in third. He can win again.
Peter Fahey has a couple of runners in this and Born Patriot is my pick of them. He was a winner of a maiden hurdle at a big price (80/1) at this venue in November and has run creditably since at Thurles, Musselburgh and Navan.
The ratings say that Blue Sari could be the one to beat but I haven’t given up on Fighter Allen yet. He’s been beaten a few times when fancied but I’m hoping the better ground will bring about some more improvement.
Vanillier was very good when winning the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham but it may have suited runners who were on the front end. Galopin Des Champs was equally as impressive when winning the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle from Imperial Cup winner Langer Dan and I’ll side with him. Another Cheltenham winner Telmesomethinggirl takes a big step up in trip to three miles.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup can leave a big mark on the runners in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo was beaten here (by me on Kemboy!) after winning his first Gold Cup at the Festival in 2018. Clan Des Obeaux missed Cheltenham and has been supplemented for this race while Kemboy is better on flatter track and is a previous winner. He didn’t have that hard a race at Cheltenham when his chance was gone and he’s my pick to win it again.
A Grade 1 bumper for amateur riders only. Patrick Mullins had a choice to make and he’s picked Sir Gerhard to beat Kilcruit – like he did in the Cheltenham Champion bumper. He looks to have picked the right one in my opinion.
Willie Mullins has a couple entered but I’ll overlook LiveLoveLaugh this time after his great win at Aintree. The one that catches my eye is the bottom weight Tiger Voice who was travelling very well at Limerick, where he looked a winner all the way down the hill but just got tired at the second last fence. He sneaks in off bottom weight and Rachael Blackmore rides for Henry de Bromhead.
A Grade 3 Mares’ bumper and Willie Mullins’ Grangee ran a blinder when sixth to Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit in the Cheltenham bumper. She was a good winner at Leopardstown beating Party Central who subsequently won at Fairyhouse. She’ll be hard to beat and is my best bet of the day.
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