15:40 Punchestown: Handicap Hurdle
Force of Forces won a fairly ordinary Maiden Hurdle well in Fairyhouse, but then disappointed at Clonmel and now drops back in trip to 2 miles. I rode Lareena when she won well before Cheltenham, and I think she’ll improve after a disappointing effort on tough ground at Cork. She’ll be the better of our two.
16:15 Punchestown: Handicap Chase
Bon Papa ran really well at Fairyhouse over 2 miles, but that was a slowly run affair and he got caught for a bit of toe. He should have improved since then and the experience should stand to him.
The dryer weather should suit Townshend, who’s in good order. On dry ground there’s a good handicap in him.
American Tom is a better going left-handed, but has never lived up to the expectation while Cadmium could be unexposed but lacks experience.
16:50 Punchestown: Cross Country Chase
I’m no expert on banks form, so my knowledge revolves around Auvergnat, Josie’s Orders and Cantlow. But you’d have to compare them to Bless the Wings, who ran a blinder in the English Grand National – could you really see any of that trio matching his third-place in that one?
17:30 Punchestown: Stayers Hurdle
Bacardys was staying well at Cheltenham until he overjumped the last. That was a slowly run race, which wouldn’t have suited him, so if there’s a stronger pace here, he’ll be in the mix.
Bleu Et Rouge was disappointing at Cork recently, despite running well in handicaps all year. There are some doubts about his ability to stay here, and this is a real step up.
Faugheen has struggled since winning the Morgiana in December, and I felt after the Champion Hurdle that he needed a step up in trip, which he’s got here. His run at Christmas was terrible, albeit he looked a bit better in the Irish Champion Hurdle. Still, you’d need to be an optimist to really fancy him in this one.
Penhill is in good form, and is the horse to beat since Cheltenham. He should have actually improved in the interim, looks in great form at home, and is a worthy favourite.
Identity Thief was very good at Aintree, but it’s a very quick turnaround.
18:05 Punchestown: Handicap Hurdle
It’s a while since Screaming Rose ran, but she looks good at home. She’s fresh and well and could run a good race.
But Ainsi Va La Vie could be the best of our runners in this race. She’s won a couple of bumpers and the step up in trip should really suit her. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a big handicap in her.
18:40 Punchestown: Ryanair Novice Chase
Aintree’s loss is very much Punchestown’s gain, and it’s lovely to see Footpad back. I was bullish about Douvan, but Footpad is a cracking individual in great form. It would be great to see him win and go through a novice season unbeaten.
It’s worth bearing in mind also that the dryer ground will suit Saturnas and a drop back in trip from Fairyhouse will suit Asthuria.
19:15 Punchestown: Mare’s Novices Hurdle
Glens Harmony got injured when she won her Maiden Hurdle, but she has a great record when fresh. She has surprised us once or twice with her form in that regard. The trip is ideal for her.
Paul Townend has gone for Cut The Mustard, who has fitness and experience on her side. She ran okay at Fairyhouse and is in good form. She has a chance here.
Redhotfillypeppers took a bad fall at Fairyhouse, but she’ll run well here despite perhaps wanting a bit more of a trip.
Eoline Jolie did well at Fairyhouse and was looking good before she got tired. She’ll have improved from that run and will definitely have a squeak. With the allowances I would probably pick her from our four.
19:45 Punchestown: Bumper
Willie has some serious contenders from among these runners. Billy Gleeson won well on Castlebawn West in Clonmel, leaving his first run way behind him. He may have to improve again on that to beat some of the others here.
Derby doesn’t strike me as a bumper type, and the owners will have a lot of fun with him over hurdles and ultimately fences.
Patrick Mullins has gone for Getareason, and I can see why. He was good at Downpatrick, and is working very well at home. If I had to pick I’d have gone for him.
Katie Walsh gets the leg up on Rio Vivas, who disappointed the first day and left that well behind on the second. He goes well, but Getareason is probably our best in this one.