Frank Hickey’s Punchestown Tips:
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
We start on Wednesday with a competitive handicap hurdle where Peter Fahey’s Privilege catches my eye. He won his maiden on the Flat for Jessica Harrington but never really figured after that in handicap off a mark in the mid 80’s but showed a lot of promise over hurdles on his second start when second to Icare Allen with decent animals like Doctor Brown, Brazil, Prairie Dancer and Man O Work behind him.
Injury kept him off the track for a year before he was down the field behind High Definition and Diverge at Leopardstown and Punchestown and now makes his handicap hurdle debut. I’m taking a chance on his stamina over this trip but is potentially very well treated and worth a small interest.
Three Card Brag and Sandor Clegane set a very high standard but both had tough races in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Della Casa Lunga has loads to find on official ratings and only gets 9lb off Sandor Clegane and 11lb off Three Card Brag.
This has been her target though and she has been coming along nicely all season and was a close third to Deeply Superficial in a mares’ Listed novice hurdle last time where she shaped like she wanted to go back up to two and a half miles. It would be dangerous to dismiss her in the market and the last two winners of this contest were returned at 40/1 & 14/1.
Despite being off the track since November 2021 Port Stanley represents Jessica Harrington who has an outstanding record in this contest having won it four times in seven years with runners priced at 15/2, 13/2, 9/2 & 50/1.
Port Stanley was third in a good novice handicap chase here that year off a mark of 134 and has shown he is capable of running to a mark in the mid 130’s which may be good enough here. De Capo Glory is respected but was disappointing on handicap debut at Fairyhouse. Testing ground would also play to his strengths.
Gaelic Warrior will really appreciate going back right handed, a step up to three miles and should be difficult to beat but Salvador Ziggy is overpriced. He has improved with every run since joining Gordon Elliott and won a maiden hurdle here last May, so track should be no issue and ran a cracker in the Pertemps Final off top weight – though Aidan Kelly took 7lbs off – when second to Good Time Jonny. Looks a solid each-way play.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs won here as a novice hurdler off the back of Cheltenham win, so I’ve few worries on that front about him. He was a brilliant winner of the Gold Cup and the runner up then and main rival now Bravemansgame also had a hard race. He should win barring a mishap.
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A Dream To Share was just so good at Cheltenham and enhanced the impression he made at the Dublin Racing Festival and it will take a big performance from one of the rest to beat him if he brings that level of form into this. Obviously Willie Mullins has dominated this contest winning it eight times in 10 years and you have to respect his runners – particularly Tullyhill – who looked an exceptional prospect when winning on bumper debut at Gowran last month.
Royal Rendezvous won this contest last year off a mark of 160 having being pulled up in the Aintree Grand National just before that. Paul Townend rode him then but has opted for stablemate Ha D’or this time. He beat The Goffer over this trip at Fairyhouse in December and was last seen running fifth to El Fabiolo at Cheltenham in the Arkle Chase. He makes his handicap debut over fences off 140.
Danny Mullins gets the leg up on Royal Rendezvous now who runs off top-weight on a mark of 155. He’s only had three runs this season and gotten better each time from finishing last in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown to second in a Fairyhouse Chase Grade 2 last time to better fancied stablemate Easy Game. He can go close to repeating last year’s win.
Frank Hickey’s Punchestown Tips
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
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