Ruby Walsh: I’d still be happy to ride Bapaume – he looks the one to beat

Racing's top jock hung up his saddle yesterday, but he’s found time away from all the fanfare to give us his Thursday tips at Punchestown...

15:40 – JLT Handicap Hurdle

Paul Townend rides Cool Colonnade for Willie Mullins and he’s a summer horse. He’ll certainly improve for the run and he’s one to keep an eye on here.

16:50 – Cross Country Chase

Even with 12st 7lbs on his back, you can see what the bookies think of Josies Orders given how short his price is. If I was looking for an each-way play, Peter Maher’s Ballyboker Bridge would be the way I’d go.

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17:30 – Champion Stayers Hurdle

Even though I’m not longer riding Bapaume, I’d still be happy to ride him today. A reproduction of his run in the Stayers’ Hurdle would nearly be good enough to win here, because plenty of these were behind him.

He’s improved all season and he seems to be in good order too, he’s the one to beat. Bacardys is in great form at home too, while Killultagh Vic will need to be better than he has been of late to challenge.

18:05 – Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle

Getareason has been a bit disappointing and he ran badly in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, but we think he’s a better horse than he’s shown on the track. Ben Button has had a long lay-off and he’ll appreciate all the water they put on the track last night, but I’d imagine he’ll improve from this outing.

Calie Du Mesnil would have liked the opposite though, she’d have liked it to stay dry overnight. Her best run was in Leopardstown in a 3m handicap. The trip will suit her though and she’s competitive off her mark, but the ground could be the issue here.

Roll Again was at the front end of a very strong gallop at Fairyhouse last week and Paul Townend would have preferred to have been a bit further back on him.

However, it says a lot that he’s willing to ride him again.

Small Farm comes in on a nice mark here and Katie O’Farrell got a nice tune out of him last time out, where he beat Voix Des Tiep. He’ll jump, stay and he could outrun his odds in this.

I was going to ride My Sister Sarah. She was unlucky at Fairyhouse, where she was a faller at the fourth-last. The interference I suffered on her there nearly sent me off the racecourse, she did really well to finish sixth there.

I would have been more than happy to be riding her today.

18.40 – Ryanair Novice Chase

I was down to ride the fresher horse in Chacun Pour Soi, but it’s a huge ask for a horse on his second start over fences.

This is a cracking race with the Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres up against the JLT winner Deifi Du Seuil. Maybe Chacun Pour Soi could get involved, but I’m a huge Deifi Du Seuil fan and I reckon he’ll give Duc Des Genievres a lot to do.

19:15 – Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle

Elfile is the highest-rated in this race’s small field, which will make her an easier ride over this distance.

Her style of running means she won’t ever look like she’s going to win, but ultimately, she should come out on top.

19:45 – Kildare Post (C & G) INH Flat Race

The Big Getaway was a bit unlucky in Navan, but he’s improved. It’s not like Willie Mullins to run a maiden in a winners’ bumper, but this horse is in good order and he’ll take a bit of beating.

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