Punchestown Wednesday Preview

Punchestown Wednesday Preview

It wasn’t a great opening days punting, but it was a fantastic days racing, with Sizing Europe bringing the house down and Faugheen looking ever more the monster. The ground looked to be riding genuinely good, (there were a few, like Djakadam, taken out because it was deemed too quick.)

The big race on the second day is the Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f). Much is made of the bad record of horses who run again that season after a hard race in the Gold Cup, but Sir Des Champs won this last year after walking over the line in the Gold Cup, and Silviniaco Conti won the Bowl at Aintree this year – so it can be done.

On His Own (7/2) was an unlucky 2nd in a bizarre finish to the Gold Cup and in theory that sets the standard here. However, if he’d split Lord Windermere and The Giant Bolster in a close finish anywhere else, it would be regarded as well below Grade 1 form. There are bad Gold Cups and time my show this was one. Given that and the fact he needs to bounce back from a hard race, I’m keen to oppose him with Ruby having passed him over.

Boston Bob (3/1) is a horse I’ve always liked and he was very much one that got away in the Melling Chase. He’s stepped up here to the trip that the perceived wisdom says will suit ideally. He’s fresh after a light campaign and I think he’s the right favourite. However, he isn’t much shorter in my book and so whilst I wouldn’t put anyone off, I’m not keen to pile into him at a short price.

Long Run (9/1) would have lapped these in his pomp but he’s looked on the downgrade this season and there’s a big question mark over whether he’ll have the toe on good ground to go with them now. He would come into it if there was a lot of rain.

The two I like at the prices are Lyreen Legend and Argocat. Argocat (10/1) ran a blinder behind Silviniaco Conti and Dynaste at Aintree, (beaten 3l) and I don’t think that was a fluke. Quite how he’s 10/1 and First Lieutenant (¾l behind him at Aintree, now 1/13 in Grade 1 chases and a doubtful stayer) is 6/1 is a mystery. Argocat is a progressive 6 year old who likes a sound surface and for whom Tom Taaffe was talking of the King George before he got injured at Down Royal in the autumn. That said, horses off the flat have a terrible record in open Grade 1 chases, especially over 3m+, (Kempes is the only one that springs to mind in recent years.)

The selection is therefore Lyreen Legend (6/1) who took a while to come to hand this season, reportedly well short of peak fitness in the Lexus and again needing the run in the Irish Hennessy. He travelled really well into the straight in the Gold Cup and, with several of the others going sideways close home, its been overlooked that he belted 2 out, losing all momentum, but was only beaten 6¾l.

It might be stamina was an issue and, if so, he’s got 1½f less far to travel here - but I suspect he would have been in the mix had he jumped 2 out cleanly. He wouldn’t have had as a hard a race as On His Own there, but he does have that post Gold Cup question mark. However, having had only 2 runs before then, he should be fresher than most and I think should be challenging for favouritism.

Those that like a big price on these sorts of end of season races, (3 of the last 4 winners of this have gone off at 20/1, 20/1 & 14/1), could do worse than Foildubh (40/1). He’s miles better on good ground, (gave 10lb to Rubi Ball and beat him over hurdles in November on good,) and shapes as if he wants a real trip nowadays. He’s not the no-hoper his odds imply.

1pt Lyreen Legend to win the Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30) @ 6/1

The 3m Grade 1 novice hurdle has been a minefield recently for punters with the last 3 winners going in at 14/1, 12/1 and 33/1. It’s hard in all divisions to work out which horses are over the top at this stage of the season, but particularly so in novice hurdles. Finding a horse that’s been laid out for this is as much a part of finding the winner as evaluating the form.

Very Wood (9/2) sprang a surprise when a 33/1 winner of the Albert Bartlett. He clearly improved hugely for the step up in trip to 3m and the application of cheekpieces, and was a decisive winner in the end. Stamina looks very much his forte and he’ll be jumping fences in the autumn but he’s a surprisingly big price for a Festival winner, and 9/2 is tempting. Apache Jack (10/1) was 4½l 3rd in the Albert Bartlett, (he was also having his first try at 3m), and there doesn’t look an obvious reason why he should turn the tables.

Beat That (2/1) beat Albert Bartlett 4th Champagne West 10l, (closely matched with Very Wood if that’s taken literally,) in a 2½m maiden at Ascot over 2m4f in November, before throwing away a Grade 2 at Sandown with a bad mistake at the last. He was visually impressive in the Sefton, and the front two pulled miles clear of good horses, (155 rated Seeyouatmidnight beaten 29l in 3rd.) He’s also seen as a chaser for next season and how hard trained he’ll be for this, having had a tough race at Aintree, is open to question. He looks a cracking long term prospect but I couldn’t recommend backing him at 2/1 here.

Don Poli (9/4) won the conditionals race at the Festival off 143. He was apparently run off his feet there early on, (over an extended 2m4f), before his stamina kicked in and he won going away. This longer trip obviously looks likely to suit and he has fair claims. However, it was just a handicap, (with an effective weight range of only 16lb,) that he won at the Festival - and he’s taking on the two Grade 1 winners from Cheltenham and Aintree, so whether he should be as short as he is, is debatable.

Lots Of Memories (12/1) looked a decent prospect in the autumn – winning a Grade 3 at Cork over 3m easily. He disappointed after that, (often on bad ground that doesn’t suit,) before bouncing back after a near 4 month break when hosing up in a valuable 3m handicap at Fairyhouse off 129 recently. That obviously gives him plenty more to find but he comes here in good form and has each-way claims.

Given the propensity for shocks in this, Shanahan’s Turn (33/1) is interesting. He chased home useful types Mr Fiftyone and Gilt Shadow over 2m on his first two runs under rules. Stepped up to 2½m, he won well at Leopardstown at Christmas. He didn’t run again until the Neptune where he travelled really well but looked to get done for toe, (didn’t get a clear run,) in the straight.

His only run over 3m was in a point where he was an impressive winner by a distance, (from a subsequent winner.) His breeding suggests he may want a trip and whilst he’ll come into his own as a chaser next season, he looks just the type to spring an end of season surprise in a race like this. If he settles he might just continue a fairytale week for Sizing Europe’s connections. He’s a huge price and great each-way value.

1pt Shanahan’s Turn each-way in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (4.55) @ 33/1

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Cheltenham Countdown

Welcome to our exclusive betting blog focusing on the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

For the third year running, we welcomed National Hunt expert Matt Tombs to blog all things Cheltenham through the winter. The highlight was Jezki's Champion Hurdle win, which was a vindication of a long-term plot and went some way to ensuring another Festival in profit. Click through to view the archive of 2012 and 2013.

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2014 Results:

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Western Boy - Supreme Novices - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Zamdy Man - Supreme Novices - 1pt 33/1 - N/R

Ted Veale - Arkle - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Felix Yonger - Arkle - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Jezki - Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Cockney Sparrow - Mares Hurdle - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Foxrock - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Gullinbursti - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 33/1 NRNB - N/R

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Rathvinden - Neptune Novices - 1pt e/w 16/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - RSA Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Ifandbutwhynot - Coral Cup - 1pt 28/1 - U/P

Arvika Ligeonniere - Champion Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Balthazar King - Cross Country - 1pt 33/1 - WON

Modus - Champion Bumper - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

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Mozoltov - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Champagne Fever - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 7/1 - N/R

Benefficient - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Baily Green - Ryanair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Salubrious - World Hurdle - 1pt e/w 25/1 - U/P

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Captain Cutter - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - County Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

The Giant Bolster - Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - 3rd

Dynaste - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 NRNB - N/R

Certain Flight - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

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Gigginstown - Top Owner - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Good Ground - Official Going - 1pt 10/1 - LOST

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Advised Bets:

Sizing Gold - Aon Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

On The Fringe - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 7/4 - WON

At Fishers Cross - World Series Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Balder Succes - Ryanair Novice Chase - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Art Of Logistics - Three.ie Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Lyreen Legend - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Shanahan's Turn - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Boylesports.com Champion Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Western Boy - Champion Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 - U/P

Mullaghanoe River - Irish National - 1pt 18/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Powers Gold Cup - 1pt 11/2 - U/P

Quito De La Roque - Grand National - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Salubrious - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Ted Veale - Maghull Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Saint Are - Aintree Handicap Chase - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Melling Chase - 1pt 7/1 - 3rd

King Of The Picts - Top Novices Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - 3rd

Themanfrom Minella - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 50/1 - U/P

Giorgio Quercus - Topham Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Dynaste - Betfred Bowl - 1pt 15/8 - 2nd

Turn Over Sivola - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 8/1 - 2nd

Uxizandre - Manifesto Novices Chase - 1pt 9/2 - WON

Mossey Joe - Aintree Fox Hunters - 1pt 13/8 - 3rd

Baby Shine - Reynoldstown Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Kingwell Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Bog Warrior - Red Mills Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Vautour - Deloitte Novice - 1pt 2/1 - WON

Tammys Hill - Hunters Chase - 1pt e/w 5/1 - WON

Vendor - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Boston Bob - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

The Giant Bolster - Argento Chase - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Unioniste - Sky Bet Chase - 1pt 9/2 - 3rd

Hidden Cyclone - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

Captain Chris - WH Chase - 1pt 2/1 - WON

The Liquidator - Tolworth Hurdle - 1pt 5/2 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Hey Big Spender - Welsh National - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Shantou Magic - Challow Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Morning Assembly - Topaz Novice Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Cue Card - King George - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

My Tent Or Yours - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 5/4 - WON

Defy Logic - Racing Post Novice Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Salubrious - Long Walk Hurdle - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Totalize - The Ladbroke - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Ma Filleule - December Gold Cup - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Prince De Beauchene - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Fighting Fifth - 1pt e/w 10/1 - 3rd @ 9/1

Sizing Rio - Drinmore - 1pt 5/2 - U/P @ 3/1

Jezki - Hatton's Grace - 1pt Evens - WON

Roi Du Mee - Betfair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Gift Of Dgab - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Cash And Go - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Cotton Mill - Elite Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Cue Card - Haldon Gold Cup - 2pts 11/8 - U/P

Benefficient - Charlie Hall Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Sizing Europe - JNwine Champion Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd