Thank you for your support in 2018/19

Firstly, I would like to thank each and every person that has taken the time to read, like, retweet and provide feedback on the 2018/19 National Hunt blogs, it’s very humbling to receive such fantastic support and it makes all of the late nights (early mornings!) worthwhile.

I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to Tom and Jack Williams of JTW Equine Images (@JTWEquineImag), who have kindly provided me with some brilliant images throughout the season. Their superb images are a testament to both their passion and professionalism and I look forward to working with them again in 2019/20.

Now let’s talk business. Followers of all blog selections were rewarded with an overall profit to the tune of +186.34 points, with 153.37 of those points coming from antepost selections at the Cheltenham Festival, and 32.97 coming courtesy of the ‘Daily Blog’.

Frustratingly, there was a significant dip in form following one winner from one selection on Midlands Grand National Day at Uttoxeter. However, we all know and understand that this game is a great leveller, and you have to take the rough with the smooth.

There have been some memorable moments including Sizing Tennessee (20/1) easily landing the Ladbrokes Trophy, Houblon Des Obeaux (20/1) landing the Veterans Final at Sandown, A Plus Tard (14/1 & 7/1) coming good in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, City Island (10/1) storming up the hill in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Band Of Outlaws (16/1 & 7/1) sprinting to success in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, and Sire Du Berlais (50/1) landing a huge gamble in the Pertemps Final. While the full-house treble consisting of Sassy Diva (7/1), Dellas Des Pictons (6/1) and Klassical Dream (3/1) on the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival was also a notable highlight.

Elegant Escape (11/2) and Frodon (7/1) landing the Welsh Grand National and Ryanair Chase respectively were also personal highlights as they both possess the ‘heart on your sleeve’ mentality that is so loveable in a racehorse.

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading these blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and it’s always fantastic to reward all followers, old and new, with a decent profit at the end of the season. One follower happily informed me that he paid for his summer holiday (with his family) to Spain with his winnings from Sire Du Berlais!

I’d like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and memorable summer and look forward to getting back to business come the autumn.

Thanks again for all of your support. It genuinely is greatly appreciated.

All the best

Jim (Stu, or whatever else you feel like calling me!)

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Punchestown Festival: Saturday

GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:

3.50 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m4f

Benie Des Dieux looked home and hosed in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham prior to her final flight departure, however, there’s a very good chance that Willie Mullins’ talented mare will gain ample compensation tomorrow.

Rich and Susannah Ricci’s eight-year-old beat Apple’s Jade amongst others in the corresponding contest 12 months ago and looks to have a more straightforward task this year given that her closest rival is rated just 145. Therefore she may prove very hard to beat if putting in a clear round.

Stormy Ireland and Good Thyne Tara placed second and third respectively in the above mentioned Cheltenham contest and are undoubtedly the biggest threats to their stablemate tomorrow.

The former has chased home both subsequent champion hurdler Espoir D’Allen and high-class mare Laurina this season and stayed on strongly behind Roksana, who has since advertised that form well in Grade 1 company at Aintree, at Cheltenham. While the latter actually placed second behind Stormy Ireland at this venue in November and could easily pick up place money once more.

Gigginstown House Stud representative Tintangle placed third in the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham prior to a fourth placed effort behind the hugely exciting Honeysuckle in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse 13 days ago.

The form of the latter contest has received significant boost from the runner-up Elfile, who ran out a comfortable 10 lengths winner of a Listed contest on Thursday. However, Gordon Elliott’s mare will still need to find significant improvement in order to feature here.

With Discreation has only made it to the racetrack twice in four years, however she 2-2 under rules and could therefore be anything. She does, however, have to overcome both a year of the track and a lack of experience, which will make her job very difficult given the class of opposition.

CONCLUSION:

Benie Des Dieux is a class above these and should record back-to-back victories in this Grade 1 contest if putting in a clear round. While Stormy Ireland, who has chased home some smart opposition this season, looks the one for forecast purposes.

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4.25 – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m

Fusil Raffles created a deep impression when storming to success in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in February, however – frustratingly, he also created a very deep cut when clipping a hurdle in the closing stages and was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival as a result.

The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned four-year-old also sidestepped Aintree en route to this meeting and therefore arrives here incredibly fresh compared to the majority of his rivals.

The speed that he displayed at Kempton could prove a lethal weapon here and Nicky Henderson will have a good idea of where he stands with some of these on a line through dual Grade 1 scorer Pentland Hills.

Fakir D’oudaries appeared to be a juvenile hurdler of significant potential when scooting clear to record an impressive 13 lengths success in Grade 2 company on Cheltenham Trials Day, and again displayed definite promise when staying on resolutely to claim a fourth placed finish behind the hugely exciting Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March.

The JP McManus owned juvenile then gave the aforementioned Pentland Hills a real race at Aintree and only went down by narrowest of margins. Therefore connections will be hopeful of gaining some ample compensation tomorrow.

French Made and Way Back Home placed first and fourth respectively in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse 12 days ago.

The former was having just his third start for Willie Mullins and was considered good enough to contest the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle following a comfortable three-and-a-half-lenghs success at Clonmel in January. While the latter arrived at Fairyhouse in search of a hat-trick and will hope to bounce back with Robbie Power in the saddle.

Gigginstown House Stud will be represented by both Coko Beach and Surin.

The former ran a big race to place second in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham and will attempt to make his presence felt in this higher grade. While the latter was last seen chasing home the sadly departed Sir Erec and Gardens Of Babylon in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, therefore she could easily outrun her price with a handy 7lbs Mares allowance further enhancing her prospects.

CONCLUSION:

French Made and Surin are open to further improvement. While Fusil Raffles looked very smart at Kempton and should go close with freshness on his side. However, FAKIR D’OUDARIES boasts plenty of experience and sets the standard based upon his fourth placed effort in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and subsequent runner-up effort behind Triumph Hurdle hero scorer Pentland Hills at Aintree. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old jumps well and knows how to battle – two assets that will stand him in good stead tomorrow. He won’t mind the conditions and could prove tough to beat if none the worse for his heavy spring campaign.

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BEST OF THE REST:

5.00 – Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (Grade B) 3m120y

Acting Lass beat some smart opposition on his first three outings over fences and recorded his latest success off just a 1lb lower mark at Ascot in January 2018.

The lightly raced eight-year-old took to fences like the proverbial duck to water and was sent off a warm 7/2 favourite for the often competitive Grade 3 Betdaq Handicap Chase in February last year. However, it’s fair to say that things didn’t go to plan that day and he could only finish a remote ninth after being held up in rear.

This will be no easy task given that Acting Lass is returning from 434 days off the track. However, he won first time out in each of the last two seasons and will undoubtedly be primed for this valuable prize.

His canny handler struck with the ever-popular Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle on Thursday and often aims a few of his better horses at this fixture. Therefore it would be no surprise to see this promising son of King’s Theatre go very close tomorrow close.

SELECTION: Acting Lass 5/1 – 2pt win (888 Sport)

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5.35 – Ballymore Handicap Hurdld (Grade B) 2m4f

Canardier has performed with great credit this spring and arrives here following a fine fifth placed finish in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and third placed effort in the Grade 3 Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle at Aintree

Dermot McLoughlin’s seven-year-old will compete from just a 1lb higher mark tomorrow but, crucially, will encounter his preferred ground conditions which could make all the difference.

A reproduction of those fine efforts would make him a very lively contender here and he looks an each way bet to nothing with Paddy Power offering 6 places.

SELECTION: Canardier 10/1 – 1pt each way (Paddy Power – 6 Places)

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SELECTIONS:

3.50 – Benie Des Dieux to beat Stormy Ireland – 2pt forecast.

4.25 – Fakir D’oudaries 11/4 – 2pt win (Generally)

5.00 – Acting Lass 5/1 – 2pt win (888 Sport)

5.35 – Canardier 10/1 – 1pt each way (Paddy Power – 6 Places)

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Image supplied by JTW Equine Images (JTWEquineImag).

All Images Copyright ©JTW Equine Images. All Rights Reserved, please ask them if you wish to use the images. http://tomwilliams275.wixsite.com/jtwequineimages

Punchestown Festival: Friday

GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:

5.30 Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m

Last year’s winner and runner-up Supasundae and Wicklow Brave will do battle once more, however, they face sterner opposition tomorrow.

The former landed the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle 4 weeks ago following a succession of second placed efforts earlier in the season. While the latter, who landed the spoils in 2017, was narrowly touched-off in a photo-finish the Coral Cup in March and commands respect given his record in the race.

Melon may have posed a threat to the above named pair had he not crashed out at three from home and he may have had Supasundae’s measure at Aintree before falling at the same hurdle. He placed second in the Champion Hurdle once again in March and is a danger to all if on a going day.

Buveur D’Air and Summerville Boy placed second and fourth respectively in the same Aintree contest and it’s fair to say that the former was inconvenienced by the late departure of Melon.

The dual champion hurdler is on somewhat of a recovery mission following three straight defeats and will be sent off a short priced favourite tomorrow. He was beaten fair and square in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and it’s possible that his fall at Cheltenham was still fresh in his mind when suffering defeat on Merseyside. He may bounce back but his price is skinny enough given the circumstances.

The latter landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season and was diagnosed with hairline fracture of his right-hind femur following two disappointing efforts earlier in the season. He is entitled to come on for his reappearance at Aintree and could pose a threat if recapturing his best form.

Apple’s Jade was sent off a 7/4 favourite to land the Champion Hurdle in March on the back of a sparkling success in the Irish equivalent at the Dublin Racing Festival in February. However, it was clear from a very early stage that she wasn’t herself during that race and it came as no surprise when she scoped dirty in the aftermath.

She has since confirmed her well-being with a gutsy third placed finish in the Grade 1 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree and, providing that race hasn’t taken too much out of her, she could easily bounce back with a big performance tomorrow.

Petit Mouchoir is without a success since October 2017 and could only finish fourteenth of eighteen runners in the Stayers Hurdle in March. Therefore, he makes little appeal here.

CONCLUSION:

Buveur D’Air will attempt bounce back following three straight defeats but his price certainly doesn’t reflect the question marks hanging over him at present. Supasundae won this last year and bounced back to form at Aintree. While Wicklow Brave’s record in this race commands respect, however, Melon, who was an unlucky faller on Merseyside, is Willie Mullins’ first string on jockey bookings. That leaves APPLE’S JADE, who has looked unbeatable in Ireland this season and scoped dirty following her disappointing effort at the Cheltenham Festival in March. She returned to something like her best form when running a huge race in the Stayers Hurdle at Aintree and a reproduction of her Irish Champion Hurdle success would make her very hard to beat.

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6.05 – Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m4f

City Island ran out a good winner of the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the runner-up, namely Champ, gave that form a significant boost when scoring in the same grade at Aintree last month.

Martin Brassil’s exciting six-year-old is yet to taste defeat on the track (Disqualified at Galway in August) and the manner of his success at Cheltenham makes his a hugely exciting prospect. He hasn’t endured a tough campaign and should therefore be fit and ready for this Grade 1 contest.

Sam’s Profile and Easy Game placed fifth and eighth respectively behind City Island at Cheltenham. While Battleoverdoyen, who was sent off a well fancied 9/2 chance, was pulled-up before the final flight of hurdles.

The former placed second behind the latter on the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January and may have given the Gigginstown House Stud owned image more to think about had he not made two momentum stopping mistakes during the race. While the latter, who is every inch a chaser in the making, landed his bumper at this venue in November and could easily bounce back to form.

The middle-named runner was the subject of a big gamble on the day that saw his price tumble from 20/1 early in the morning to 7/1 by the off. However, he could never land a blow and looks a shade below this class.

Dommage Pour Toi got the better of Easy Game at Fairyhouse 4 weeks ago, albeit in receipt of 5lbs, and the runner-up, Zero Ten, gave that form a sizeable form boost when comfortably scoring at this meeting on Wednesday.

Henry De Bromhead’s six-year-old has plenty of scope for progression after just three starts under rules and could easily outrun his price.

Reserve Tank took his form to a whole new level when causing a 20/1 surprise in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, and he should not be underestimated at a festival where his trainer has sent many of his better horses in recent years.

That said, this does appear to be a stronger race on paper and he will need to continue on his upward curve in order to prevail.

Willie Mullins, who trains the aforementioned Easy Game, will also saddle Tonado Flyer, who hasn’t been seen since pulling-up behind Battleoverdoyen in January, Royal Rendezvous, who ran out 16 lengths winner of a Galway maiden hurdle when last sighted in October, Eglantine Du Seuil, who landed the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, and Come To Me, who has found Grade 1 company far too hot to handle on his last two visits to the racetrack.

The former lacks experience, however, he won his maiden hurdle over this course and distance and the form of that race has worked out well. While the second named remains an unknown quantity, but did land two bumpers prior to his maiden hurdle success.

Eglantine Du Seuil is hard to access but warrants respect given her Cheltenham Festival success and handy 7lbs mares allowance. While the last named was a good winner of his maiden hurdle at Cork but will need to find significant improvement based on his last two outings.

Gallant John Joe and All For Joy, who will both represent trainer Oliver McKiernan and owners Keep The Faith syndicate, complete the field.

The former placed third behind Commander Of Fleet and Rhinestone in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival in February and could therefore outrun his huge double figure price. While the latter found Grade 2 company a step too far last time out but won his maiden hurdle in fine style on his penultimate outing.

CONCLUSION:

Tornado Flyer is an intriguing contender, however, his lack of experience is a concern in this company. While Battleoverdoyen and Sams Profile will look to bounce back from slightly disappointing efforts in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Dommage Pour Toi has decent form in the book and could easily outrun his price. While Gallant John Joe, who could only finish seventh behind Henry De Bromhead’s representative in Grade 2 company last month, could also outrun his price of replicating the form of his third placed effort in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival. However, CITY ISLAND ran out an impressive winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in March and will be tough to beat if in the same kind of form tomorrow. Runner-up Champ gave that form a significant boost when scoring in Grade 1 company at Aintree and Martin Brassil’s six-year-old can reap the rewards of a light campaign.

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BEST OF THE REST:

4.55 – Irish Concrete EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase (Grade B) 2m5f

This competitive mares handicap can go the way of Barra, who lacks experience over fences but displayed plenty of promise when placing third behind Camelia De Cotte and Pravalaguna in Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse 10 days ago.

The Gigginstown House Stud owned mare made an impressive debut in this sphere when comfortably getting the better of vastly more experienced rivals at Kilbeggan last June, and her outing at Fairyhouse will have blown away the cobwebs and put her spot on for this valuable prize.

Gordon Elliott’s charge placed third in the 2018 Coral Cup off the very same mark that she will carry into battle tomorrow, and the chief of Cullentra Stables has further enhanced her prospects by making use of 7lbs claimer Mr R James. Therefore all looks set for a very big run.

SELECTION: Barra 8/1 – 1.5pts each way (Betfair, BetVictor, Coral – All 4 Places)

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6.35 – Star Best For Racing Coverage Champion Hunters Chase 3m120y

Enda Bolger hasn’t won this race since 2016 when the much loved On The Fringe justified favouritism in the hands of Nina Carberry. This year the cross country king will saddle Stand Up And Fight, who failed to land a blow at Cheltenham but could go much closer tomorrow.

The JP McManus owned seven-year-old didn’t jump with his usual zest that day and does lack the experience of many of his rivals. However, there’s a good chance that he has been brought along slowly with this race in mind and he could have no better pilot that Derek O’Connor, who knows the son of Flemensfirth well.

He will arrive at Punchestown fresher than of his main market rivals have and it would be no surprise to see him truly announce arrival on this stage.

SELECTION: Stand Up And Fight 7/2 – 2pt win (Bet365)

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7.10 – SalesSense International Novice Hurdle 2m

Dunvegan created a good impression when making a successful hurdling debut at Fairyhouse in December, however, he has disappointed in two subsequent starts in Grade 1 company and now drops in class to contest this competitive looking novice hurdle.

The grey son of Le Harve also takes a drop in trip tomorrow and already boasts form at this meeting having landed a bumper 12 months ago, where he beat solid yardsticks such as Voix Des Tiep, Getareason and Gallant Joe Joe by upwards of one-and-three-quarter-lengths.

The flashy six-year-old will have to guidance of Davy Russell here, which is obviously a bonus. And, despite the presence of some lightly raced rivals who also possess potential, he could easily get his promising career back on track.

SELECTION: Dunvegan 8/1 – 1pt each way (Generally)

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7.45 – GVA Donal O’Buachalla Property Advisors INH Flat Race 2m2f

Jessica Harrington runs many of her promising young horses in these end of season bumpers and Gold Des Bois looked like a smart prospect when scoring between the flags at Kirkistown in February.

Gold Des Bois travelled prominently in the hands of Jamie Codd and stalked the leader approaching two from home. After which, he eased to the front and saw his race out in fine style.

Finian Maguire (3) will take over in the saddle tomorrow and his mount will come up against many talented rivals who have also excelled between the flags. However, he is definitely a solid each way proposition at a fair price of 7/1.

SELECTION: Gold Des Bois 7/1 1pt each way (Ladbrokes, Coral)

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SELECTIONS:

4.55 – Barra 8/1 – 1.5pts each way (Betfair, BetVictor, Coral – All 4 Places)

5.30 – Apple’s Jade 9/4 – 2pt win (Marathon)

6.05 – City Island 5/4 – 4pt win (Generally)

6.35 – Stand Up And Fight 7/2 – 2pt win (Bet365)

7.10 – Dunvegan 8/1 – 1pt each way (Generally)

7.45 – Gold Des Bois 7/1 – 1pt each way (Ladbrokes, Coral)

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Image supplied by JTW Equine Images (JTWEquineImag).

All Images Copyright ©JTW Equine Images. All Rights Reserved, please ask them if you wish to use the images. http://tomwilliams275.wixsite.com/jtwequineimages

Punchestown Festival: Thursday

GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:

5.30 – Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m

Bapaume is without a success since landing the Prix La Barka at Auteuil last June, however, his fourth placed finish in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham and runner-up effort behind Presenting Percy in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle on his penultimate outing undoubtedly make him a stand out contender given the lack of Grade 1 opposition.

The Rich and Susannah Ricci owned six-year-old has been a consistent performer in graded company over the last few years and has often threatened to land a race of this nature. He could only finish fifth in the corresponding contest 12 months ago but the recent rainfall will aid his prospects and this is undoubtedly his greatest chance to succeed.

Aux Ptits Soins could only finish seventh in the Stayers Hurdle but bounced back to form with an impressive Grade 3 success at Aintree last month.

He will undoubtedly have to up his game in order to be competitive here, however, as mentioned above, this isn’t the strongest of races and like Bapaume, this is probably the french bred’s best opportunity to gain a Grade 1 victory.

Bacardy’s is a smart performer on his day but has displayed little spark in recent times. He could only finish tenth in the corresponding contest 12 months ago, but did come home one place ahead of Aux Ptits Soins at Cheltenham in March.

The stamina laden eight-year-old landed the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle in 2017 and a return to form can not be ruled out.

Both Vision Des Flos and Cracking Smart need to bounce back from disappointing efforts in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, however both have questions to answer regarding the trip. While Not Many Left, who ran a fine race to place third in the ultra-competitive Pertemps Final in March, and Unowhatimeanharry, who landed this race in 2017, are interesting contenders who could easily get involved if the race is run to suit.

Dortmund Park has only been seen twice since landing the Grade 1 Profile Systems Champion Novice Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago and, although both of those efforts were well below par, he could easily bounce back to form with the ground coming in his favour.

Killultagh Vic lowered the colours of the mighty Thistlecrack over this course and distance when scooping the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at this fixture in 2015 and was only a head behind the aforementioned Bapaume when placing third in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January, albeit in receipt of 5lbs. Like with many of these, a return to form could see him go close.

Prince Of Scars made his return to action after 21 months on the sidelines when placing sixth in that same Gowran Park contest and he could easily outrun his price if progressing from that outing.

CONCLUSION:

Bapaume should run well but his short price and lack of success at this level hardly inspires confidence. British raiders Aux Ptits Soins and 2017 winner Unowhatimeanharry are names for the shortlist, however, it may pay to look for a horse with scope for progression given the open looking nature of this contest, and Jessica Harrington’s NOT MANY LEFT certainly fits the bill. The son of Oscar probably hit the front too soon at Cheltenham but stayed on dourly to claim third placed. The runner-up, Tobefair, was in receipt of 5lbs and won at Cheltenham next time out. While the winner was clearly very well handicapped given his troubled passage through the race. The promising six-year-old ran a respectable race to place second in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse 10 days ago and should appreciate stepping back up in trip. He is proven on the ground and makes good each way appeal.

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6.40 – Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1) 2m

This could easily develop into a match race between Arkle Novices Chase hero Duc Des Genievres JLT Novices’ Chase victor Defi Du Seuil, who were very both impressive in the Cotswolds and have lofty aspirations for next season.

The former climbed the hill in splendid isolation, however, despite runner-up Us And Them going on to fill the same position in Grade 1 company at Aintree, it is hard to get a true gauge of what that form in worth. On the other hand, Lostintranslation, whom Defi De Seuil has defeated on his two most recent outings, progressed to land the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase on Merseyside to give that form a solid look.

Thad said, Philip Hobbs’ former Triumph Hurdle hero does have to prove he still has the speed for two miles. However, the turn of foot that he displays at the end of his races provides plenty of reason for optimism.

Both will handle the conditions at Punchestown and it may come down to jumping prowess.

Duc Des Genievres will be joined by stablemates Chacun Pour Soi, who made a victorious belated Irish debut at Naas in March, and Voix De Reve, who landed the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse 11 days ago.

The former has always been held in high regard and the manner of his facile 31 lengths success at Naas makes him a very interesting proposition. While the latter, who ran out a 7 lengths winner of the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase over this course and distance in November, is arguably slightly overpriced and could go well if pushing the pace with the front-running Ornua.

The above mentioned Us And Them comes into this race on the back of four successive runner-up efforts in Grade 1 company. Therefore, he should not be dimissed lightly. While his Aintree conqueror Ornua, who is versatile in terms of conditions and a danger to all if granted an uncontested lead, also enters calculations.

Duca De Thaix, who has been consistent in decent company this winter, may be outclassed in these deeper waters.

CONCLUSION:

Chacun Pour Soi is a fascinating unknown quantity. While Voix De Reve and Ornua will ensure that the race is run at a proper gallop, which will suit both DEFI DU SEUIL and Duc Des Genievres. However, preference is for the former, who has proven himself to be a horse of significant potential this season and has plenty of rock solid form in the book. Philip Hobbs has his team in fine form at present and landed the opening contest on yesterday’s card with another horse carrying the famous green and gold bands of leading owner JP McManus. The ground holds no fears and he has the stamina to out-battle his rivals should push come to shove. Therefore, he looks a very solid proposition.

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BEST OF THE REST:

4.15 – Pigsback.com Handicap Chase (Grade B) 2m

Mind’s Eye carried-out the re-opposing Snugsborough Hall when running out at Fairyhouse 11 days and while that rival was travelling particularly well at the time, Rachael Blackmore had only just begun to ask her mount for an effort, therefore it is impossible to predict what the outcome may have been.

The Gigginstown House Stud inmate clearly has his quirks, however, he will be sporting cheekpieces tomorrow which will hopefully help him to concentrate on the job in hand.

I suspect that front-running tactics may be deployed once more and the recent rainfall is most certainly a bonus as each of his 3 victories to date have been achieved on ground officially described as yielding or worse.

A mark of 139 doesn’t appear to be overly harsh given that he was considered good enough to contest the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase in December, and he could prove pretty hard to peg back if granted an uncontested lead.

SELECTION: Mind’s Eye 8/1 – 1pt each way (Paddy Power – 4 Places)

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6.05 – Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) 3m

Cuneo ran a huge race to place fourth – just 2 lengths behind the above mention Not Many Left – in the ultra-competitive Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival in March and must hold strong claims tomorrow off a 1lb lower mark.

Henry De Bromhead’s promising seven-year-old has clearly improved for the step up to 3 miles this winter and will find the recent rainfall to his liking. He beat a decent field of handicapppers when landing a Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas and will have learnt plenty from his trip to the Cotswolds.

Rachael Blackmore will continue in the saddle and Cuneo still has plenty of scope for improvement after just 5 outings over timber. Therefore, he has plenty going for him in this competitive heat.

SELECTIONS: Cuneo 7/1 – 1pt each way (Paddy Power – 6 Places)

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SELECTIONS:

4.15 – Mind’s Eye 8/1 – 1pt each way (Paddy Power – 4 Places)

5.30 – Not Many Left 8/1 – 1pt each way (Generally)

6.05 – Cuneo 7/1 – 1.5pts each way (Paddy Power – 6 Places)

6.40 – Defi Du Seuil 2/1 – 2pt win (Generally)

Punchestown Festival: Wednesday

GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:

5.30 – Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m

Minella Indo, Commander Of Fleet and Allaho will renew rivalries after finishing first, second and third respectively in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

The former was given an enterprising ride in the Cotswolds and will be keen to get on with things as he undoubtedly needs a truly run race in order to be seen to best effect. While the second named, who was a Grade 1 winner at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, will also relish a true test of stamina and was successful in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at this meeting 12 months ago.

The latter, who actually got the better of Minella Indo on his penultimate outing in Grade 3 company at Clonmel, wasn’t given a hard time at Cheltenham and could easily benefit for that tomorrow.

All three should develop into smart staying chasers in the fullness of time and they all hold strong claims in this competitive Grade 1 prize.

Last season’s Champion Bumper runner-up Carefully Selected has only been seen once this term due to the unseasonably dry weather and should come on plenty for his belated hurdling debut at Limerick in March.

There is nothing flashy about the way in which the scopey seven-year-old goes about his business, however, his attitude and stamina make him a solid proposition given how this race is likely to be run.

Defi Bleu ran a fine race to place third in the ultra-competitive Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle last month and will have the assistance of Davy Russell tomorrow. While the consistent Go Another One, whom Richard Johnson steered to success at Perth 7 days ago, seemed to enjoy the step-up to 3 miles and can rely upon the services of the British champion jockey once more.

School Boy Hours, Castlebawn West and Gallant John Joe have stamina to prove, however, the latter ran a huge race to finish third behind the aforementioned Commander Of Fleet at the Dublin Racing Festival in February and could represent fair each way value at a generous double figure price.

Walk Away arrives here on the back of a hugely creditable fourth placed effort in Grade 1 company at Aintree and could have plenty of improvement to come after just two career outings under rules. While Cap York, who won a Pertemps Qualifier over this course and distance in February, could only place ninth behind Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett last month and would need to find more to have a say.

Salsaretta, who placed seventh in the Albert Bartlett, defeated Aintree Grade 1 scorer Felix Desjy over Christmas and will be aided by her 7lbs Mares allowance. While First Approach, who was four places behind Salsaretta last month, will also need to find improvement in order to feature.

CONCLUSION:

Carefully Selected has freshness on his side and is a danger to all if progressing from his maiden success at Limerick. While Minella Indo and Commander of Fleet command the utmost respect as Grade 1 winners who fought out the finish of the Albert Bartlett in March. However, ALLAHO wasn’t knocked around when finishing third in that same contest and may therefore be able to exact his revenge tomorrow. The expensive french import has always been held in high regard at home and was strong in the finish at Clonmel on his penultimate outing. The scopey five-year-old tracked the leaders that day and moved into contention approaching the penultimate flight of hurdles, and I would imagine that Ruby Walsh will look to deploy similar tactics tomorrow.

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6.05 – Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m120y

Willie Mullins appears to hold all the aces here as Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, Betway Bowl scorer Kemboy and Irish Gold Cup hero Bellshill currently lead the way.

All three arrive here on the back of light campaigns and Paul Townend will continue his association with the former, while Ruby Walsh will partner Kemboy. Meanwhile David Mullins, who won this race on Bellshill 12 months ago, will be on board the Graham and Andrea Wylie owned nine-year-old.

Conditions should be suitable for all, however, may slightly favour Kemboy and Bellshill. They have all won Grade 1 staying chases’ this winter, therefore it would be no surprise to see all three battling out the finish.

Monalee chased home Kemboy at Leopardstown in December and returns to three miles following a disappointing fourth placed finish in the Ryanair Chase last month.

Henry De Bromhead’s talented eight-year-old clearly possesses plenty of class, however, he has arguably displayed his best form over trips ranging from 2m4f to 2m6f, and the fuel gage may hit zero should this become a true test of stamina.

Snow Falcon was a disappointing 15/8 favourite in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse 9 days ago and may struggle in this higher grade. While Definitly Red, who was brought down in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (50/1 outsider), The Storyteller, who finished sixth behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Christmas and third behind Bellshill in the Irish Gold Cup in February, and Sub Lieutenant, who landed the Grade 3 Irish Daily Star Chase over this course and distance in October and bounced back to form with a solid second placed effort in the Topham Chase last month, complete the field.

CONCLUSION:

There was no fluke about Al Boum Photo’s Gold Cup success and he commands the utmost respect on his first outing since. While Bellshill won this race last year and boasts an unbeaten record at the track (3/3). However, KEMBOY has been hugely progressive over the last 12 months and put up a sparkling performance in the hands of Ruby Walsh at Aintree. He had Monalee, Bellshill and The Storyteller in behind when running out a good winner of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and his blend of speed and stamina should be well suited to the demands of Punchestown.

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6.40 – Racing Post App Champion INH. Flat Race For The Conyngham Cup (Grade 1) 2m70y

Abacadabras will put the Champion Bumper form to the test and connections will be hopeful that the son of Davidoff can go three places better in the hands of Lisa O’Neill.

The Gigginstown House Stud owned five-year-old was in the process of running a big race in Grade 2 company at the Dublin Racing Festival in February before running out when making up ground in the final furlong. The winner of that race, namely Envoi Allen, went on to the land the above mentioned Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, giving the form a very solid look.

Embittered, who won over this course and distance in December, Beacon Edge, who cost £88,000 at the Cheltenham November Sales following an impressive debut success for Nicky Richards, and Mt Leinster, who has performed consistently in decent bumpers all season long, placed third, fourth and fifth respectively in that same Grade 2 bumper and therefore could feature if progressing from that run.

December Sound, who was bred by Godolphin, is a fascinating contender for the upwardly mobile yard of Philip Kirby.

The flat-bred five-year-old won what is traditionally a good bumper at Ayr last month, when arriving late with a wet sail to deny the well punted joint-favourite Chess Player in the final furlong of the contest.

This obviously represents a huge rise in class, however, the manner of his victory justifies his inclusion.

The Willie Mullins trained Golden Spread was no match for the exciting Andy Dufresne at Down Royal in January but has won both of his subsequent starts in taking fashion.

The promising six-year-old lowered the colours of his aforementioned stablemate Mt Leinster on his latest trip to the racecourse and he could be easily be underestimated in the betting.

Colreevy, who won a bumper over this course and distance at this meeting 12 months ago, is another contender who would have to enter calculations in receipt of 7lbs (Mares allowance). As would Santa Rossa, who landed the Grade 2 Mares Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival in February before placing third in the same grade at Aintree last month.

Derek O’Connor is a notable jockey booking on the Paul Webber trained House Island, who caused a 40/1 shock when landing a Listed contest at Newbury last month. While Fire Away, who defeated the well regarded recent hurdle scorer Ontheropes at Wexford in March, could also outrun his double figure price.

CONCLUSION:

Abacadabras holds sound claims on the form of his fourth placed effort in the Champion Bumper. While December Sound could be anything at this stage and also commands respect. Embittered and Mt Leinster also enter calculations based on their running at Leopardstown in February, however, BEACON EDGE, who split that pair in fourth, could be the one to focus on. The promising son of Doyen was having first outing for Noel Meade that day and it’s fair to say that he didn’t have the smoothest of passages when push came to shove. That said, he stayed on well and was never nearer than at the finish. Therefore, he could represent fair each way value.

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BEST OF THE REST:

3.40 – Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle 2m5f

Jessica Harrington has enjoyed plenty of success at this meeting in recent years and has an intriguing contender for this two-and-a-half-mile contest in the form of Conron, who is 2-2 at Punchestown and warmed up for this contest with a smooth success on the flat at Clonmel last month.

The intriguing son of Mastercraftsman is yet to test his stamina over this trip, however, his Clonmel success came over 2 miles, therefore there is sufficient reason to believe that he could improve for the extra yardage over timber.

Conron was considered good enough to contest the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas in November, where he failed to land a blow behind subsequent champion hurdler Espoir D’Allen. Needless to say he will face lesser opposition tomorrow and he could still be fairly treated off a mark of 122.

SELECTION: Conron 12/1 – 1pt each way (William Hill – 5 Places)

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7.10 – Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A) 2m4f

Ben Dundee ran a huge race to place third behind A Plus Tard in The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March and surely must go well off a featherweight 10-6 if in the same kind of form tomorrow.

Gordon Elliott’s charge was a close-up third behind subsequent dual Grade 1 scorer Delta Work on chasing debut in November, and built upon that smart effort with a comfortable victory over Whisperinthebreeze, Mall Dini and Tower Bridge over this course and distance next time out.

Ben Dundee was disappointing in three subsequent outings, however, he took a few runs to find his true form over hurdles and that may also be the case over fences. His run at Cheltenham was a clear indication that he is ready to land a decent pot for his shrewd connections, and he looks to have favourable conditions tomorrow.

SELECTION: Ben Dundee 8/1 – 1.5pts each way (Generally – 4 Places)

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SELECTIONS:

3.40 – Conron 12/1 – 1pt each way (William Hill – 5 Places)

5.30 – Allaho 4/1 – 1pt win (Generally)

6.05 – Kemboy 13/8 – 2pt win (BoyleSports)

6.40 – Beacon Edge 6/1 – 1pt each way (Bet365)

7.10 – Ben Dundee 8/1 – 1.5pts each way (Generally – 4 Places)

Punchestown Festival: Tuesday

GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:

4.20 – Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m100y

Felix Desjy and Aramon fought out the finish of the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree earlier this month, with the former coming out on top after receiving an enterprising ride from the front. Both have the ability and form to run well tomorrow, however, they could only finish fifth and sixth respectively behind Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and may struggle to overturn that form.

Willie Mullins’ exciting french import also defeated stablemate Aramon in the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in February and will arrive here fresher than the majority of his rivals who have been kept busier in the meantime.

The talented son of Dream Well is proven on varying types of ground and looked head and shoulders above his opposition in the Cotswolds, therefore he should prove very tough to beat if running up to that form tomorrow.

Champagne Platinum, who was an eleventh hour absentee from the Cheltenham Festival, looks a embryonic chaser in the making, but is unbeaten in two starts under rules and warrants respect up in class. While Quick Grabbim, who had the aforementioned Aramon back in third when landing the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, will face a stiff task after 149 days off the track, but has the form to go well if ready to do himself justice.

Mister Blue Sky is 2-3 over hurdles and looked progressive when scoring in Grade 2 company three weeks ago. These are, however, much deeper waters and further improvement will be required in order to trouble those towards the head of the market.

CONCLUSION:

Felix Desjy and Aramon are closely matched on form and will likely race prominently from flag fall. That could, however, set things up perfectly for the strong travelling, slick jumping KLASSICAL DREAM, who is 6lbs clear of his nearest rival on official ratings and has had this race as his target ever since his impressive Cheltenham Festival success. Willie Mullins has landed this contest four times in the last five years and the Irish champion trainer has his team in fine form at present, therefore the dual Grade 1 winning novice can get Closutton off to the perfect start in the opening Grade 1 contest of the meeting.

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5.30 – BoyleSports Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m

Min was a sight to behold when gliding clear in the Grade 1 JLT Chase (Melling Chase) at Aintree earlier this month and should take all of the beating if in the same kind of form tomorrow. However, he could only place fourth behind stablemate Un De Sceaux in this contest 12 months ago and the evergreen eleven-year-old could be the one who presents the biggest danger here.

The popular performer gave Altior something to think about the Tingle Creek Chase in December and placed fifth in a decent renewal of the Ryanair Chase on his only subsequent outing this season. Therefore, he may be fresher than many of his rivals and will look to put pressure on his shorter priced stablemate at the head of affairs.

Great Field has fallen on both of his outings this season and therefore arrives here with plenty to prove. While Hell’s Kitchen, who will also carry the green and gold bands of leading owner JP McManus, ran a fine race to place fourth in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, but has plenty to find with Min on his Aintree running.

Castlegrace Paddy, who will be the mount of Davy Russell, and Ordinary World, who will represent Henry De Bromhead and Racheal Blackmore, complete the field.

The pair finished sixth and eighth respectively behind Altior at Cheltenham and would would likely need others to underperform in order to feature.

CONCLUSION:

Min is undoubtedly the one to beat if anywhere near the form of his impressive Aintree success. However, at the prices, it may be worth taking him on with last year’s hero UN DE SCEAUX, who has enjoyed a light campaign to date and confirmed his well-being in the Tingle Creek Chase in December. The popular veteran could easily place a number of his rivals in trouble if jumping proficiently at the head of affairs and he could prove tough to pass given his determined attitude and proven stamina.

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6.40 – Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) 3m120y

Delta Work was sent off a warm 15/8 favourite for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but had to settle for a third placed finish behind Topofthegame and Santini after travelling well throughout the 3 miles contest.

Gordon Elliott’s smart six-year-old is already a dual Grade 1 winner over fences and was only narrowly touched-off by the classy Next Destination in Grade 1 novice hurdle company at this meeting 12 months ago. Therefore, he is obviously a very big player in this competitive novice heat.

A Plus Tard looked to be a horse of significant potential when turning the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase into a procession last month and he will have the benefit of a 5lbs weight-for-age allowance on his first foray into Grade 1 company.

Henry De Bromhead’s charge scooted clear from two-out and shaped as through this longer trip would be within his compass. However, he failed to justify favouritism when touched off by Winter Escape, who successfully conceded 14lbs that day and will re-oppose tomorrow, at this venue in January, and his best from has arguably been achieved on left-handed tracks. That said, he is officially the highest rated horse in this contest and could potentially find improvement over this extended trip.

Getabird hasn’t been sighted since placing second in Grade 1 company over Christmas and warrants respect given Willie Mullins’ dominance at this meeting in recent years. He is clearly a much better horse going right-handed and holds a freshness advantage over many of rivals. While Articulum, who chased home Rich Ricci’s representative in a novice chase at this venue in December, ran a fine race to place third in the Grade 1 Arkle Novices’ Chase last month and is an intriguing contender over this new trip.

Discorama ran a huge race to place second in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and arrives here after sidestepping the Irish Grand National on account of the quick ground. While Chris’s Dream, who will provide Henry De Bromhead with a useful second string to his bow, also warrants respect given the solid form of his Grade 2 success in the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.

Both relish soft ground but should cope with conditions tomorrow, and it would be no surprise to see them run well if the emphasis is placed on stamina.

RSA Chase sixth Drovers Lane, who retains promise but looks potentially outclassed in this company, completes the field.

CONCLUSION:

A Plus Tard is hugely exciting and could easily go close in receipt of 5lbs. While Discorama and Chris’s Dream also command respect and may look to make this a true test of stamina. However, Gigginstown House Stud have won this race four times in the last eight years and Gordon Elliott landed the spoils with The Storyteller last term, therefore DELTA WORK, who has the best form in the book, could take plenty of beating with conditions set to suit. The promising young stayer already boasts Grade 1 form at this venue and will appreciate a truly run race. He is a nimble jumper who relishes a battle and could easily develop into a genuine Gold Cup contender next term.

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BEST OF THE REST:

4.55 – Killashee Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) 2m100y

Willie Mullins landed this race with True Self (12/1) 12 months ago and looks to have another well treated mare this year in the form of Buildmeupbuttercup, who won a warm maiden contest on her hurdling debut in December and has been campaigned in graded company ever since.

The promising mare was sent off a warm 9/4 favourite for the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle in January and has since taken in the Grade 2 Mares Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse. Therefore, this represents a huge drop in class and she will begin life in handicaps off a potentially lenient mark of 128.

Buildmeupbuttercup has accumulated enough experience to land a race of this nature and will encounter conditions that will suit, which only further enhances her prospects. While the presence of Ruby Walsh in saddle also inspires confidence.

The Irish champion trainer has payed a lot more attention to handicaps at this meeting in recent years and it would be no surprise to see him plunder this race for a second successive year.

SELECTION: Buildmeupbuttercup 12/1 – 1pt each way (William Hill – 4 Places)

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6.05 – Goffs Land Rover Bumper 2m100y

Robert Tyner has a superb recent record in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper, winning back-to-back renewals in 2016 and 2017 with Coeur De Lion (22/1) and Vision Des Flos (12/1) respectively – in addition to sending out Blast Of Koeman (20/1) to place sixth in 2015 and Design Matters (12/1) to finish fourth 12 months ago.

This year the shrewd Irish handler will be represented by Arctic Ambition, Nelson’s Point and Fiston De Becon, however, it may pay to focus on the latter who is arguably the first string based on jockey bookings.

Derek O’Connor rode Vision Des Flos to success in 2017 and was also aboard Blast Of Koeman in 2015. Therefore it is interesting that he will take the mount of Fiston De Becon, who cost €50,000 as a three-year-old.

We are betting blind in terms of ability, however, clearly the trainer likes to prepare one for this race and his strike-rate commands the utmost respect.

SELECTION: Fiston De Becon 4/1 – 1pt win (Bet365, Sky Bet)

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SELECTIONS:

4.20 – Klassical Dream 8/11 – 4pt win (Generally)

4.55 – Buildmeupbuttercup 12/1 – 1pt each way (William Hill – 4 Places)

5.30 – Un De Sceaux 10/3 – 1pt win (William Hill)

6.05 – Fiston De Becon 4/1 – 1pt win (Bet365, Sky Bet)

6.40 – Delta Work 7/4 – 2pt win (Generally)

Fairyhouse Fancies

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4.10 – Magnium

This is a contest that will likely require luck in running in addition to a favourable handicap mark in order to win, however, such is the competitive nature of this heat, you will be adequately rewarded should you indeed find the answer to this intriguing handicap conundrum.

Willie Mullins and Joseph O’Brien are mob handed here, while Gordon Elliott will also field some interesting contenders. However, it may pay to take a risk on Jessica Harrington’s handicap debutant Magnium, who has displayed definite promise in graded novice hurdles this winter and looks fairly treated off a mark of 134.

The promising six-year-old was only 3 lengths behind subsequent Grade 1 scorer Aramon when placing second at Navan in November and filled the same position behind Easy Game in Grade 3 company two weeks later. The son of Westerner also split two poor runs with a respectable fourth placed effort in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novices Hurdle in January, therefore it’s easy to make a case that his opening mark is fair.

Harrington’s charge will appreciate the decent ground and has twice finished ahead of the re-opposing Choungaya, who is some 14 points shorter than Magnium at the time of writing, this season. Therefore he makes plenty of each-way appeal with 5 places up for grabs.

SELECTION: Maginium 22/1 – 1pt each way (Sky Bet, Betvictor – 5 Places)

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4.40 – Mr Adjudicator

Regular readers of this blog may remember that I was very keen on Mr Adjudicator’s prospects in the County Hurdle last month, however, despite travelling well in the hands of Paul Townend, he was too far back when push came to shove and simply couldn’t make up the ground.

Thankfully, Townend accepted his fate early-on and didn’t give Willie Mullins’ lightly raced five-year-old a hard time, which is definitely a positive heading into this contest. While the form of his only other outing this season was given a significant boost when Espoir D’Allen cruised to Champion Hurdle success on the opening day of the Festival.

Willie Mullins has won this race four times in the last five years and clearly has his string in fine form at present as indicated by his treble yesterday, which included a maiden victory in the Irish Grand National. Furthermore, the fact that Ruby Walsh has elected to ride Mr Adjudicator can only be seen as a positive and he too will be buoyed by yesterday’s success.

SELECTION: Mr Adjudicator 4/1 – 2pt win (Generally)

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