The first day of the Punchestown Festival is today’s racing highlight and the ground is described as yielding (good to soft) with further showers forecast.
Getabird pulled hard, jumped right and failed to get home at Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last month but bounced back when making all at Fairyhouse earlier in the month. He is a much better horse going right-handed and he is unbeaten in two starts at today’s track.
The gelding is a shade of odds on (10/11 at BetVictor) however and make no mistake this is a much better race than his Fairyhouse romp. If Paloma Blue ever learns to settle, he could be anything and he was coming back at Mengli Khan when the pair finished in front of Getabird at Cheltenham.
They are both big dangers, but British raider Vision Des Flos (4.20) did not appreciate the steady early pace when finishing second in Aintree’s Grade 1, but he looks sure to have the race run to suit today and can reward each way support at 14/1 with BetVictor. That run was only 11 days ago but that is factored into his price and I think the Colin Tizzard-trained gelding can outrun his odds.
Golden Spear (4.55) went into a number of notebooks when finishing a never nearer fourth at Leopardstown last time and his young conditional jockey rode a very good winner in a hands and heels event at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting on Saturday.
Trained by Tony Martin the horse will always need luck in running given his holdup style of racing, but he is very well handicapped over hurdles on the best of his flat form and he gets the each way vote. The tissue price I have seen is 14/1 at BetVictor and that looks a decent price albeit in a 25-runner handicap.
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot saddle eight of the ten runner in the two-mile Champions Chase and preference for Douvan (5.30) over stablemate Min is marginal although I was impressed with how well he was travelling when coming down behind Altior at Cheltenham last time. It is perhaps significant that Ruby Walsh preferred Douvan to Min at the Festival although the latter was shorter in the betting.
Douvan is unbeaten in for starts at Punchestown and, whilst 5/4 at BetVictor looks short enough for a horse, arguably, on something of a retrieval mission, he had looked a superstar in winning his first thirteen races under rules.
I’m not absolutely sure Monalee (6.40) would have finished runner up in the RSA Chase had Al Boum Photo not fell at the last but I hope his sound jumping will get the others under pressure some way from home in the Champion Novice Chase.
There is no Presenting Percy to worry about today and he should be fresher than a number of his chief rivals today who have had another outing since the Cheltenham Festival. The selection is 13/8 at BetVictor and I hope to see him make all under Noel Fehily for Henry De Bromhead.
At Exeter, I am looking forward to seeing the rules debut of Kootenay River (5.00) who won a point by 20 lengths under today’s pilot last month and was subsequently sold for £80,000 and sent to the Alan King yard.
John Gosden’s Without Parole (2.55) is reported to be working well at home and he is taken to maintain his unbeaten record in the second division of the Novice Stakes over a mile. The selection landed the odds at Newcastle on debut back in December and this son of Frankel is still entered in the 2000 Guineas (25/1 at BetVictor).
If you think, December is a strange time to be introducing a potential equine star it is worth noting that subsequent Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs made his racecourse debut for the yard on the 27th December.
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