Mick Fitzgerald: Belargus looks primed for a big run at Punchestown

All your day one Punchestown tips from top pundit Micky Fitz...

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Punchestown is a great meeting and rounds off the Irish National Hunt season. You get a lot of Cheltenham winners running here so hopefully the form holds one last time for what has been a long season for some of the runners.

The opening novice hurdle at 16.20 is a chance to see the Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Klassical Dream again. He’s odds on and is obviously the one to beat under Ruby Walsh. However, his stablemate Quick Grabim could run a big race at an each-way price.

He has a lot of speed and Punchestown on decent ground will suit. He is at least worth an each-way play or something in the ‘without the favourite’ market.

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The 2m handicap hurdle at 16.55 is a trappy contest but the one I like is English raider Belargus at the bottom of the weights. He won like a nice horse at Ascot and is still unexposed. With just 9st 13lbs on his back, he looks primed top run a big one in a race where Paddy’s paying the first four each-way.

The feature race of the day is the Champion Chase and it’s very hard to look past Min. I was at Punchestown when he won here last year and was so impressed. He’d an off-day behind Altior at Cheltenham but bounced back to win well at Aintree and his form is strong.

The ground doesn’t look soft enough for stablemate, Un De Sceaux, so the stage is set for Min to shine.

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The trouble with the 2m bumper at 18.05 is that you don’t have much form to go on but there’s a serious roll of honour. The last two winners were Commander of Fleet and Vision Des Flos who are multiple winners since and are penciled in to run again here this week.  The market is always the best guide and I’ll be watching to see if Fiston De Becon is supported for the Robert Tyner and Derek O Connor combo.

The 3m Novice Chase is a belter at 18.40. You have the market leaders Delta Work and A Plus Tard and the Ruby Walsh-ridden Getabird for good measure. Will A Plus Tard be as good over 3miles as 2m 5f. If he is then they will struggle to contain him. Delta Work fans were a little disappointed with his tame finish at the Festival when third behind Topofthegame and Santini in the RSA Chase. Getabird was a very highly thought of as a point-to-pointer but I don’t think he wants this trip.

I was with A Plus Tard at Cheltenham and I’m sticking with him to follow up.

We end day one with another bumper over 2m where the promising Front View has not been seen since getting brought down at Naas. He finished second to Blue Sari at Gowran Park who subsequently went on to run Envoi Allen close in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. I’ll give Front View the chance to boost that form again here.

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