We’re back on the Flat at Punchestown on Thursday which is a novelty and a two-year-old maiden opens the card. Joseph O’Brien’s Emphatic Answer looks to set the standard of those that have run. She finished sixth at Cork in a race that has worked out well. The second, April Showers and the fourth, Divinely have both won since, with Divinely winning a Group 3 at the Curragh last week.
If Emphatic Answer takes a step forward from that run, she should be very hard to beat. Jessica Harrington’s Giuliana and Johnny Murtagh’s New Emerald Bay. Of the newcomers, the market should be the best guide to chances of the well-bred Monday from Ballydoyle.
There’s little to choose between the top two in Bopedro and Fame and Acclaim, with the latter having won his last race off a mark of 94. Bopedro makes his first start for Jessica Harrington having won a Curragh handicap last season off a mark of 93 for Jim Bolger, so there’s very little between them.
Bopedro has raced in Dubai this season, but generally prefers a cut in the ground and should appreciate that on Thursday, but Fame and Acclaim’s two wins have come on better ground.
Eldama has only had the one run when really well fancied for a Leopardstown maiden and duly delivered, but this is her first run since then.
The ground sways me towards Bopedro who should be a decent price.
Another two-year-old maiden over 1m where Joseph O’Brien’s Liffey River was just chinned on his debut by Dermot Weld’s Wuqood. Granted normal improvement he should be bang there again. The Michael O’Callaghan-trained Trusted Ally finished a never-nearer fifth in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes behind Mac Swiney and could be argued to have the better form in a better race, but never really threatened at that higher level.
Michael Halford’s Razdan and Ballydoyle’s Hector De Maris are others to consider, but Liffey River should be hard to beat.
A wide-open 1m handicap where Sasta heads the Timeform ratings having won over 10f at Cork last time, but drops back to 1m now. She’s been raised 6lbs for that win, so may find it hard to follow up.
Ultra Pride has run better than his form figures suggest, but I’m in real danger of following him over a cliff. He’s drawn in stall 17 and likes to front run but will have to use a lot of petrol to get across from that wide draw if he’s going to make the running on Thursday
Hisnameis Mrdevitt should appreciate the drop back to a mile and won two on the bounce at this trip on soft ground this season already. Paddy Harnett takes a handy 7lbs off Bardo Contiguo who was a good third in a Naas handicap over 10f a month ago.
An unusually competitive filly’s maiden over 1m 1f with six runners having official handicap marks in the 80’s. Normally you’d expect any horse with a mark in the 80’s to be good enough to win a maiden – so in theory, there’s six of them in here that could do it.
The experienced Sagrada Familia just edges it on Timeform ratings and her third-place finish to subsequent winners So Wonderful and Lady Anner looks the strongest piece of form on show.
Mikey Sheehy claims 7lbs off Sagrada Familia and that tactic has worked for O’Brien in maidens this season already. That may just swing this contest in her favour in what is an ultra-competitive race.
One of my biggest fancies on the card is Johnny Murtagh’s She’s Our Queen who got no run the last day at Leopardstown, in what was a messy race. She had loads of running left and is open to more improvement.
Leagan Gaeilge should improve on her third in a Leopardstown handicap over 10f last time with the cheekpiece back on while Mighty Mirage has the ability, but her attitude is questionable and carries the Timefom squiggle against her name.
I’ll be disappointed if She’s Our Queen is not bang there at the finish.
Scorpion Black’s has slipped down the ratings a little and his run last month at Gowran Park wasn’t too bad the last time. Dylan McMonagle’s 7lb claim will help too and looks a player. The consistent All the Mollies finished ahead of Scorpion Black when second at Co. Kilkenny track and is sure to run her usual consistent race.
However, Colin Keane has ridden Tony Martin’s Day Dreamin the last twice and is worth another try. This 9f trip should suit her better than the 12f trip at Killarney last time, when she was just denied by Vita Veritas.
The finale sees another big fancy of mine, in the shape of Jungle Jungle, again from the Tony Martin stable. He did very well to beat Han Solo at Gowran Park the last day, a run that saw Seamie Heffernan get a riding ban in the process. He’s gone up 7lbs for that victory, but looked better than the bare result suggested.
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