Horse Racing Tips: Paddy Power’s ULTIMATE Punchestown Friday Cheat Sheet

It's a fun Friday at Punchestown and our ace pundits are here to give you a steer through all the day's action.

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It’s the penultimate day of the Punchestown Festival and in true Paddy Power style we’re here to gatecrash the party. Huzzah!

The big man is sponsoring the day’s feature, the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, and while Constitution Hill is at home looking over the half-door for the rest of the Summer, State Man and Vauban line up to grab some of that euro gold without the services of the greatest horse on the planet Earth.

And with a line up to match Tottenham Hotspurs’ managerial roll of honour we’ve assembled some of the shrewdest minds, sharpest brains and frankly anyone who was willing to work the Friday of an Irish Bank Holiday weekend.

So step forward Ruby Walsh, Mick Fitzgerald, Rory Delargy and the Timeform boffins with their top tips, slick picks and best guesses on the day’s action.

Here’s hoping they steer you in the right direction…

 

Ruby Walsh

Rory Delargy

Mick Fitzgerald

Timeform

Mick Fitzgerald

Lightly raced six-year-old Chateau Elan finished second on his first try round this track last year, to a smart horse in Alpha Male, and that is good form after a fourth in a Lingstown point-to-point this season. He could spring a surprise in this contest.

Timeform

JET FIGHTER acquitted himself well when sixth in the cross country earlier in the week and, if he can reproduce that sort of performance he should be hard to beat in what looks quite a thin race. An Droichead Gorm looks the chief threat and Artic Weather merits respect.

Ruby Walsh

My eyes were drawn to Kilcruit off a mark of 148. He probably hasn’t lived up to expectations yet but he is a Grade 1 bumper winner and he has a massive chance off a solid mark.

Rory Delargy

Since 2007, only one renewal of this race has gone to someone other than Willie Mullins or Jessie Harrington, and the former should have a big say with the top three in the weights. Kilcruit has not yet hit the heights expected of him over fences, but he has a class edge over most of his rivals here, and should prove hard to beat.

Mick Fitzgerald

Emmet Mullins has already won one big prize at the festival and So Scottish was a little disappointing finishing seventh at the Cheltenham Festival, but there is no doubting his ability and I am sure there is more to come from this horse.

Timeform

SO SCOTTISH shaped well when seventh in the Magners Plate at Cheltenham Festival 6 weeks ago, travelling strongly for a long way before the lack of a recent run told, and that should leave him spot on now. Life In The Park shaped much better than the bare result in a Grade 3 at Limerick last month and is of interest now handicapping, while Kilcruit heads a strong team for Willie Mullins.

Ruby Walsh

Impervious beat Allegorie De Vassy at Cheltenham and we’ll get the same result here. Impervious is fresh after that Cheltenham win.

Rory Delargy

Impervious would make more appeal if the rain arrived, but it was yielding when she beat Allegorie de Vassy at Cheltenham, and there is no reason why she won’t uphold that form, impressing with her tenacity as much as her class that day. She is an exciting prospect, and can’t easily be opposed against her own sex.

Mick Fitzgerald

I was very much against Allegorie De Vassy at Cheltenham because of her tendency to jump right-handed. She very nearly got away with this before being beaten by Impervious. I think being back at this track will suit and on the slightly quicker ground I don’t think there will be that much between them. With this filly going the right way round, she may be the value in this contest to beat Impervious.

Timeform

IMPERVIOUS maintained her unbeaten record over fences with a very smart performance when readily beating Allegorie de Vassy in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival six weeks ago and should prove hard to beat once more. Allegorie de Vassy can follow her home again despite a rather disappointing performance at Fairyhouse three weeks ago.

Ruby Walsh

State Man will uphold the form from the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle and while Vauban will get closer, it’s State Man’s to lose. He’s a short price but it’s hard to see a different winner.

Rory Delargy

State Man is another who is hard to oppose, having finished ahead of his main rivals at least once already this season. Colonel Mustard was third to the favourite at Cheltenham last year in the County Hurdle and has run with credit in handicaps this spring, so could surprise a few by chasing the selection home at a big price.

Mick Fitzgerald

With no Constitution Hill to worry about that should leave the way open for State Man to win again here. He is unbeaten in completed starts on Irish soil, so it would be a brave call to see him beaten here. Pied Piper and Sharjah deserve respect but have finished behind this lad already.

Timeform

STATE MAN has no Constitution Hill to contend with this time so is confidently expected to resume winning ways after his Champion Hurdle second and make it four wins from five starts for the season. Stablemates Sharjah and Vauban are fancied to chase home Willie Mullins’ top-class hurdler in that order.

Ruby Walsh

Going right- handed will help Champ Kiely, however, Impaire Et Passe looks the standout runner in the field. He will win barring accident and hopefully there will be a match up against Constitution Hill in the winter.

Rory Delargy

The Ballymore Hurdle form at Cheltenhamshould come to the fore, and while it won’t be easy for Champ Kiely to reverse form with impressive Cheltenham winner Impaire Et Passe, he will be much better suited by a return to a right-handed track, and can make a race of it. Despite there only being two places up for grabs, he appeals as an each-way bet against the odds-on jolly.

Champ Kiely :

Mick Fitzgerald

I loved Impaire et Passe when he won the Moscow Flyer Hurdle at this track and I think he is really smart. Wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see this horse targeted at a Champion Hurdle nest season.

Timeform

Impressive Ballymore Hurdle scorer IMPAIRE ET PASSE remains unbeaten over hurdles and looks the way to go here with Willie Mullins’ most exciting prospect holding much the best form on show with the prospect of even better to come. Stablemate Champ Kiely came home third there at Cheltenham so could emerge as the chief threat ahead of improving duo Amir Kabir and Thecompanysergeant.

Ruby Walsh

Vaucelet is the best horse in the race and while David Christie’s runners weren’t in the best form in March and April, it’s hard to see anyone else winning. He disappointed at Cheltenham so I’m hoping he can bounce back.

Rory Delargy

Chris’s Dream ran well at Cheltenham – finishing a couple of places and 3½ lengths in front of favourite Vaucelet – despite giving the impression that 3¼m there stretched him, and he has been rejuvenated in points this year. A bare 3m on a right-handed track is right up his street, and he should go well once more.

Mick Fitzgerald

Vaucelet looked the real deal going into Cheltenham. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out from finishing seventh. David Christie is a hunter chase genius and I can see this horse getting back on the winning trail.

Timeform

VAUCELET was slightly disappointing at Cheltenham but he’s a reliable character who should bounce back quickly. Chris’s Dream was ahead of the selection that day and deserves respect, while Billaway is a player if he has one of his better days in terms of jumping.

Ruby Walsh

I can’t see Uncle Phil winning and it’s hard to know what to expect from Sa Majeste. If the Arctic Bresil that beat Mercurey at Cork turns up, he will be hard to beat.

Rory Delargy

JJ Slevin enjoyed a huge win here on Wednesday and he has the plum ride here on Monbeg Park, who was first past the post at Fairyhouse last time only to be demoted for interference. He’s not an easy ride as he can run around, but that run showed that two miles is his best trip, and a reproduction of that run would need the others requiring marked improvement to beat him.

Mick Fitzgerald

I find it fascinating that Willie Mullins pitches Sa Majeste in here and, with the form his horses are in, it will be hard to oppose one of his. It is guess work though and Firm Footings is the safer option as placed in a bumper at last year’s festival, his fifth at Cheltenham reads well.

Timeform

MONBEG PARK was much improved at Fairyhouse three weeks ago only to lose the race in the stewards’ room. He can gain compensation back at the scene of his November success. Sa Majeste starting out for Willie Mullins and Firm Footings, who ran a blinder in the Martin Pipe, are among the chief dangers.

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins has Lecky Watson, Dr Eggman and Did I Ask You That – and Lecky Watson sets the standard. He ran a belter in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham when finishing fourth behind A Dream To Share and I’m not going to take him on now with anything else.

Mick Fitzgerald

It would be fantastic to see Edward O’Grady have a winner at the festival. The Mulryan family have already had success and Irish Panther ran very well at the Christmas Leopardstown meeting behind Fact to File. That is really strong form. John Gleeson is another who has had success this week and he partners this horse.

Timeform

Perhaps surprisingly Willie Mullins hasn’t won this race since 2012 but he can put that right courtesy of LECKY WATSON who was an excellent fifth in last month’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. Gordon Elliott’s Quantum Storm is feared most on the back of his promising second over 2m here in February. Clonmel runner-up Walk Away Harry is also on the shortlist for last year’s winning yard.

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