Not the worst day I’ve ever had at Punchestown, helped by a winner and a couple of places, which in turn were helped by the resurgence of Elliott and the skills of Jack Kennedy who was riding brilliantly. I was cross at my own dismissal of Mighty Potter as a third-placer, when I only mentioned him because I fancied him, (a bit), and disappointed at how quickly the lights went out on Envoi Allen, but again thrilled by the result of the Cross Country.
Whatever happens today, find a TV or your betting app and watch the Gold Cup at 17:55. There’s as much talent on show in that race, as an inappropriate comment about an inappropriate comment at an inappropriate comment, the details of which I shall be selling to The Mail in exchange for a personal invite to tea with Sir Lindsay and the always-apoplectic Anna Soubry. Huzzah!
3:40 Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Hcap Hdl (4yo+ 95-123) 2m4f 24 run
THANKSFORTHEHELP is being backed like it’s a two-horse race and if you fancy him – crack on with your own money. This is no race for favourites. Instead, Jess has last year’s winners GUIRI bidding for a double and with his decent claimer, I have him within 2lbs of his previous win. PRIORY PARK wouldn’t be a shock and you’ll get six places with most bookmakers. CONRON loves Punchy (4R – 3W – 1P!) and he’s 3lbs lower than his last Punchy win. Really shouldn’t be that price. FRANCOIS is good for six places, and LIMERICK LACE – if she has got over her fall LTO has some decent form and won a Mares Hurdle here in January.
GUIRI 3pts e/w – CONRON 1pt e/w – FRANCOIS 1½ pts e/w
4:15 Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hdl Series Final (4yo+) 2m4f 12 run
FREEDOM TO DREAM is progressive after a long break. 2nd in a G2 in December was 4th to Minella Crooner at the DRF in a decent G1 novice hurdle, and a 4th in the Martin Pipe off a 2lb lower mark all suggest that his mark is too low. I have IA CONNECT and SAM’S CHOICE pretty close but there is way more value in the former, a view supported by his TF ratings.
FREEDOM TO DREAM 5 pts win – I A CONNECT 1½ pts e/w
4:45 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hdl (4yo+) 2m4f 9 run
Nicky Henderson rarely sends duffers to Punchestown bourne out by his strike rate of 43% (3/7) since the 2018 season. Thus FILS D’OUDAIRIES is an unsurprising favourite and he has the best form in the race. (2nd G2 Aintree LTO to Langer Dan who carried a cream cracker for weight). GANAPATHI is not as good as they think and Emmett Mullins obviously thinks this is the ideal debut vehicle for MERLIN GIANT whose track record to date is 3 bumpers and 3 flat races. Sometimes however when Emmett calls, it pays to listen. You can get 16s with Boyle Sorts – 14s elsewhere.
FILS D’OUDAIRIES 4 pts Win – MERLIN GIANT 1½pts e/w
5:20 Irish Mirror Novice Hdl (G1) (4yo+) 3m 11 run
JOURNEY WITH ME will love the ground, and I did quite fancy him for The Ballymore before he crashed out at the last. With four places available, he looks a more interesting price than the Albert Bartlett first and second THE NICE GUY and MINELLA CROONER (Wealth Warning mind the other MINELLA COCOONER!!!). They’ll stay in that order I fancy and BARDENSTOWN LAD has shown no indication that his position will improve from that result. I have heard cha about DAILY PRESENT.
JOURNEY WITH ME 3 pts win – DAILY PRESENT 1½ pts e/w
5:55 Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (G1) (5yo+) 3m 9 run
Is ALLAHO the best horse in the County at the moment? Does he like the trip? Is he going to fold at the end of the season as with so many results we have seen since Cheltenham? Is there perhaps a four-time G1 winner who is only seven years old despite his many achievements? A horse perhaps who got his best rating after a facile victory at Aintree LTO. Yes – and he’s called FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES and he’s my idea of the surprise winner. I also like TORNADO FLYER who would be my top tip, if I were only doing the trends. But his King George win and his Gold Cup run were from two different animals.
6:30 Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion Bumper (G1) (4-7yo) 2m½f 9 run
FACILE VEGA cannot be beaten. End of.
FACILE VEGA 5 pts win
7:05 OMC Claims Hcap Chs (GradeA) (5yo+) 2m5f 13 run
FOXY JACKS 3 pts win – SNUGSBOROUGH HALL 2½ pts e/w
7:45 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (G3) (4-7yo) 2m½f 12 run
JETARA 2 pts e/w