Brendan Duke: Top tips for a Super Sunday at Cork and Punchestown

The good times just keep on rolling.

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Hard to follow last weekend but Irish racing is having a decent stab at it. The feature races on Sunday’s Punchestown and Cork cards look like strong renewals. The supporting cards feature some promising sorts too.

The John Durkan Chase (1.50 pm) has a nice each-way feel to it. Unfortunately I’m quite confident Min will justify his short price. A repeat of all bar one of last season’s runs should be good enough here.

The Presenting Percy ultras will be hoping for a good show from their boy.

They should get one. He can chase Min home.

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The opener at Punchestown 12.20 pm has only attracted five runners. It’s a tricky puzzle all the same. Tiger Voice gets the nod. He’s favoured by conditions and looks to be getting his act together over hurdles. His jumping needs work but no better man than De Bromhead to help him in that department.

The Tiger was the only horse to give the highly-progressive Janadil a race in Tipperary. His Cork win over smart Flat recruit Arthurian Fame will likely work out well too. Expect another step forward on Sunday.

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Minella Melody looks banker material in the Mares Novice 12.50 pm. Again we’re faced with a small field. Three exciting mares on show. The Minella is the most exciting though. She brings strong bumper form to the party. Perhaps more significantly she looked a natural jumper in Cork last month. I expect another dominant display here. She will be favourite. Anything around even money a pleasure all the same.

I’m not a fan of likely favourite Breaken in the novice chase at 2.20 pm mainly because he was far too keen, and jumped moderately, in two hurdles starts last season. It’s possible that time, fences, and his master trainer will see him realise his potential. For now I’m sceptical.

One with considerable potential is Dunvegan. He failed to build on a winning comeback last term. His campaign finished with a respectable third at the Punchestown festival. The trip on Sunday is a concern. It’s likely we will see this horse operating over three miles before long. I fancy his talent may win out here though.

He goes well fresh, should take to chasing and can expose a vulnerable favourite.


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The Hilly Way Chase 2.35 pm at Cork looks a cracker. Paddy make Ballyoisin jolly. I can see why. After beating A Plus Tard in Navan, he’s now rated 169. I would have made Cilaos Emery fav all the same, This horse achieved a high rating as a novice hurdler.

On the evidence of two runs over fences he looks likely to rate higher over fences. His novice chase win in Gowran worked out a treat. He was entitled to win on comeback in Naas, but the style was impressive.

He’s a genuine lurker in the Champion Chase market.

That potential, his trainer’s devotion to winning this race, and the weight he gets all make me reasonably confident he will head the betting come tape rise, so the 15/8 on offer on Saturday looks a bet.

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We finish up at Cork with the best bet that comes earlier on the card in the 3m Nov Hurdle at 1.35 pm.  Alpine Cobra steps up to graded company here. It looks a fairly strong race too. He wasn’t that impressive when winning a maiden hurdle last time up in Punchestown. All these factors should add up to us getting a decent price.

I think this horse has loads of potential.

Given how heavily backed he was last time, I’m inclined to think his trainer is of the same opinion. Charles Byrnes doesn’t tend to part with cash unless his horses have more than a few pounds in hand. That day he looked briefly tapped for toe.

Having got to the front he appeared to idle in front. I’m confident his superiority was masked. The extra two furlongs on Sunday looks sure to suit this strong galloper.

He can gallop home with the booty.

*Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?