• Punchestown - Saturday

    Mullins to dominate on opening day at Punchestown

    The Grade 2 Betway Craddockstown Novice Chase is the big one on the opening day of a great weekend at Punchestown on Saturday and Willie Mullins and Paul Townend can land the spoils with Voix De Reve.

    The six-year-old is holding his form well and backed up a fine effort over hurdles when third to Ballyoisin at the Listowel festival when making an impressive start over fences at Galway a little under six weeks ago. He had loads in hand over subsequent Wexford winner Mind’s Eye, a rival again here, that day and he is also preferred to his own stable companion Cadmium, the mount of Ruby Walsh.

    Mullins also looks to have the strongest hand in the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle with three of the eight runners and Good Thyne Tara, with Townend again in the saddle, might be the answer. She was a thorough disappointment when only third behind Robin De Carlow at Limerick a month ago but drops in distance for this and has race fitness on her side. She will be hopefully be a match for the younger Stormy Ireland which was well ahead of her when a winner at Killarney in May but is worse off at the weights as they clash again.

    The champion trainer might also have the winning of the Goffs INH Flat Race with Rebel Go which was a runaway winner on her debut at Downpatrick in August. She certainly looks the pick of those that have run and has most to fear from Soldier At War which chased home the hugely promising Malone Road in a point-to-point at Loughanmore in March.

    There is plenty of form on offer in the opening Sanctuary Synthetics 3-Y-O Hurdle and one that must go close is the French-import Lignou which starts out for Gigginstown House Stud and Noel Meade. Twice a winner from three starts on the Flat in his native land, he is sure to know his job and can account for Got Trumped and Dawn Hoofer.

    A Grade 1 winner over hurdles in February, Tower Bridge can make at successful start to his career over fences in the Ecocup Ireland, Event Reusable Drinking Cup Beginners Chase. He ended last season with a fine third to Santini at Aintree in April and will go a long way if as good over fences. Mall Dini has all the experience but might just be one to take on.

    There are plenty looking forward to seeing Commander Of Fleet reappear and it will be disappointing if he cant land the Kildare Now Maiden Hurdle for Gordon Elliott.Acclamatio went up 15lbs for his latest success on the Flat at Thurles late last month and makes plenty of appeal as he goes jumping again in the Free Festival Upgrade Offer Novice Handicap Hurdle.

    Selections: 12.05 Lignou; 12.35 Tower Bridge; 1.10 Voix Du Reve; 1.45 Commander Of Fleet; 2.20 Good Thyne Tara; 2.55 Acclamato; 3.25 Rebel Go; 3.55 Alelchi Inois.



    Cork - Sunday

    Elliott brace on the cards at Cork

    Gordon Elliott might be chasing bigger prizes elsewhere, but he has bright prospects of an opening race double at Cork on Sunday.

    He should have the winning of the opening Matchbook Time To Move Over Maiden Hurdle with Eclair De Beaufeu which was narrowly beaten on his Irish debut here at the beginning of the month. He was running for the first time over hurdles and for the first time since March that day and is deserving of another chance.

    The Matchbook Betting Podcast EBF Maiden Hurdle can also go the way of the Cullentra man who sends out Getaway John. A dual bumper winner last season, he was well beaten in the Champion Bumper at the Punchestown festival but is likely to be too strong for these as he goes jumping for the first time.

    Possibly the most open race of the day is the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle and here Naturally Blond might be the answer. He was unlucky not to collect over a longer trip here last month and ran another big race when third to Time For Mabel at Clonmel two weeks ago. Hopefully, he won’t be too inconvenienced by the drop in trip.  

    Tell Me Annie was a good winner from long odds-on favourite Go Another One at Fairyhouse last time and she can complete a hat-trick in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Handicap Hurdle. She wouldn’t be as exposed as many of her rivals here and should go close on her handicap hurdle debut.

    Deans Road tops the weights in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap chase and could well be the one to beat. He was running for the first time in a little over a year when third to Black Scorpion at Listowel in early September and is entitled to come on for that.

    The INH Stallion Owners EBF Beginners Chase has a tricky look to it but perhaps All’s Quiet will be a player after fair recent efforts here and at Fairyhouse. He was soundly beaten by Quamino at the County Meath venue but was nicely clear of the third-placed Allardyce which lines up against him again. The concluding McCarthy Plant & Agri Sales Hunters Chase should go the way of Macs Legend which was twice a winner in late Spring and appears to have plenty of form in the book.

    Selections: 12.15 Eclair De Beaufeu; 12.45 Getaway John; 1.20 Naturally Blond (NAP); 1.55 Tell Me Annie; 2.30 All’s Quiet; 3.05 Deans Road; 3.40 Macs Legend. 



    Punchestown - Sunday

    Stick with Samcro in Morgiana cracker

    A fine eight-race card at Punchestown commences at 12.05 on Sunday with the featured Grade 1 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle a race to savour with two former Irish Champion Hurdle winners, Faugheen and Supasundae, facing the star novice of last season, Samcro.

    Winner of this race last year, Faugheen then endured rather a poor time of things until bouncing back to form when taking the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April over three miles while Supasundae enjoyed an excellent season winning both the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in early February and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in late April having also finished runner up in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

    Samcro won the Neptune Investment Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham and was surprisingly beaten on his first start this season when outpointed by English-raider Bedrock at Down Royal just over two weeks ago but connections believe he will strip much fitter this time and if he is to be considered a genuine Champion Hurdle contender, Gordon Elliott’s charge will be expected to defeat his two older rivals.

    In other races the Grade 2 Liam & Valerie Brennan Florida Pearl Novice Chase sees last season’s Cheltenham Festival handicap winner, Blow By Blow, trying to make it two from two over fences after winning well on his chasing debut at Galway. However, the likely good ground may not totally be in his favour and it would not be the biggest surprise to see stable companion Cubomania go very close but slight preference is for Nick Lost who was unable to cope with The Last Marju at Killarney on his latest start but this trip and ground will be perfect for him.

    The opening Risk Of Thunder Steeplechase over the banks’ course can go the way of Hurricane Darwin which shaped well when runner-up to the smart Josies Orders over this course in April while Relegate should be capable of making a winning start over hurdles in the Connolly’s RED MILLS E.B.F. Auction Maiden Hurdle although she is likely to be at prohibitive odds.

    The concluding bumper looks a straight match between Malone Road and Mt Leinster, both impressive winners on their only starts to date, with slight preference for the former which looked well above average at Down Royal. The handicap races on the card are very open with Conduct Yourself put forward as the solution to the Ryans Cleaning Handicap Chase and The Holy One could be worth chancing in the Irish Daily Mirror Handicap Hurdle after a couple of good efforts in defeat in maiden races.

    Selections: 12.05 Hurricane Darwin, 12.35 The Holy One, 1.05 Conduct Yourself (NAP), 1.40 Nick Lost, 2.15 Samcro, 2.50 Brosna George, 3.20 Relegate, 3.55 Malone Road.



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