14:35 Punchestown: Cross Country Chase
We have The Crafty Butcher in this one, who hasn’t run in quite a while. He has schooled well at home, but he might need a run, fitness-wise. Outside of that, Blu Templar went close here the other day, while there’s of course Josies Orders. I’d say Josies is the one.
15:10 Punchestown: Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase
Some Neck is going well. He’s steeply enough rated at 140 given his experience. He jumped well while schooling during the week, but is rated very highly. He might struggle, and may be instead a horse for next year’s Thyestes, for example. At the moment, he lacks the experience to win off that mark. Of the rest, I think there’s a big race in Drumacoo at some stage.
15:50 Punchestown: Mares Champion Hurdle
This one is effectively a rematch between Apple’s Jade and Benie Des Dieux, Even though Benie won at Cheltenham, the handicapper still thinks she has eight pounds to find with with Apple’s Jade.
Benie Des Dieux is in great order, but going right-handed will suit Apple’s Jade, as will a flatter track.
Midnight Tour is there as well, and we have a number of others, although none really at the same level as the two clear favourites. Augusta Kate or Let’s Dance could be the ones if they came back to their best, but neither have been sparking lately.
Benie’s our number, but I fear for her against Apple’s Jade going right-handed.
16:25 Punchestown: Juvenile Hurdle
This one should be between Gordon and Willie. There’s nothing between Farclas and Mr Adjudicator. They were first and second at both Cheltenham and Leopardstown, albeit in different orders. Trying to split them is impossible. Saglawy was very good at Fairyhouse and Saldier will also have improved.
I was going to ride Stormy Ireland at Cheltenham, and I haven’t changed my opinion of the horse. With David Mullins riding her, I’d be siding with her. She’s in great form at home, so I’ll go for her.
17:00 Punchestown: Handicap Chase
Isleofhopeandreams ran a cracker in the Irish National, finishing second, but is possibly up against it here with 11-10 on his back. Augustin could be less exposed and is crying out for the trip. He’s a great shout. But Fletcher’s Flyer is a big danger to both of ours.
17:35 Punchestown: Handicap Hurdle
Willie has 14 entered and if they all run it’ll be a world record. They’re all intended runners.
Max Dynamite has to be of interest off the back of his form on the flat. He hasn’t produced over hurdles yet, and maybe he’ll want it to dry out a little bit. But you can’t give up on him.
Meri Devie likewise. I thought she’d win the County Hurdle, but was disappointing on the day. Still, there’s a big race in her, and Noel Fehily rides her.
Karalee stayed on really well at Fairyhouse last week. She finished just behind Pravalaguna, who won here during the week. Paul Townend goes on her, and I may have made the same choice as he did.
Low Sun is up to a mark of 131 with Katie O’Farrell on board. He ran a blinder here the other day when staying on. So he could reproduce.
18:10 Punchestown: Flat Race Bumper
Passageway is in this one for Willie. These horses are all first-timers. Our fella is a bit green, but he does go well enough to be involved in a bumper. Hopefully he can go close.
BEST BETS ON SATURDAY
– Stormy Ireland has a massive chance.
– Augustin is a good each-way bet.
– The handicap hurdle has 25 runners, so I’ll throw a couple of Willie’s out there. Voix Du Reve, Max Dynamite, Turcagua at a huge price could be a runner, Karalee and maybe Bargy Lady.