Its the first day of the 2016 Punchestown festival which has been dominated by Willie Mullins in previous years, but with him throwing a lot of his decent horses at the big UK meetings this season to try and win the Trainers Championship, perhaps this will change this season?
Saying that he has so many good horses in the yard that it may prove to be a premature assumption and we see Yorkhill and Vautour line up tomorrow both as massive odds on shots.
Just a quick heads up, if you have not already done so you can get the 40% members discount for the Flat season by clicking here. The Flat season coverage starts on Saturday with Newmarket's Guineas meeting proving the main focus. We expect to see bookies going NRNB tomorrow when our two antepost advices will be released to Flat members, they're both double figure prices and the double pays 350/1+
The team at Cleeve
4.20 Punchestown - Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
Top 3 rated:
1) Petit Mouchoir
3) Ball D’Arc
Yorkhill is massively odds on to defend his unbeaten record (winner at this meeting last year) and it would be quite a surprise to see him fail to win this. I had intended to leave this race alone but sometimes a bit of value pops up elsewhere.
Petit Mouchoir is better at two miles than over further whilst Yorkhill is better over two and a half miles, so that leaves the potential for an upset. His speed figures are better than Yorkhill’s over this shorter trip and that could result in Petit Mouchoir being able to accelerate at the right time and produce a surprise.
I was going to put him up for a small stake each way if 5/1 or above but at 4/1 or less he is no bet.
4.55 Punchestown - Killashee Handicap Hurdle
Top 4 rated:
4) Copy That
I originally did like Shanpallas for this, but he does not seem to have had any luck at all this season having been hampered on more than one occasion and having been brought down as well.
Copy That was also of some interest and should definitely go close, but he is far too skinny a price in a competitive race like this at current odds of only 5/1.
MacNicholson finished second in this race last year at 20/1 and gets in here off the same mark, but carries 7lbs more which could be his undoing, saying that he looks to have been laid out for this and should run well.
5.30 Punchestown BoyleSports Champion Chase
Top 3 rated:
2) God’s Own
3) Special Tiara
It is no surprise to see that Vautour a massive favourite at 1/3 and dropping back to the minimum trip should not inconvenience him due to his fantastic cruising speed. Saying hat he has never been at his best going right handed and was equally well fancied last year but ran out a pretty unimpressive winner from Apache Stronghold, so I want to be playing against him to small stakes.
Special Tiara is probably just below this level and all though he is very consistent and is likely to place, saying that his odds are more cramped than God’s Own. Simonsig would be of interest if returning to his top form of three years ago and although Nicky Henderson is capable of bringing horses back to their best (as demonstrated in spades by Sprinter Sacre) it looks too big an ask here.
It is hard to see God’s Own not make the frame as he seems at his best going right handed including winning at this meeting as a novice. He proved at Aintree that he is capable of winning at Grade 1 level and if Vautour makes a mistake is certainly capable of winning. I think he is more likely to place which at the current odds delivers a positive return.
NB. This is only a bet if there are 8 runners and 3 places
6.40 Punchestown - Growise Champion Novice Chase
Top 3 rated:
1) Rule the World
3) Southfield Royale
Rule the World must be the first Grand National winner to be still be eligible to run in a Novice race! Despite that it will be hard to win this after the effort required to win the National only 17 days ago. Outlander is the market leader here and he was only beaten narrowly by Kylemore Lough at Fairyhouse last time in a similar race. The main question mark I have is will he stay? His best form has all been from two to two and a half miles, so the step up in trip by 5 furlongs could stretch his stamina to the full. At 3/1 the question about stamina makes the price look skinny to me.
Henryville from Harry Fry’s stable could be anything having only his fourth run over fences. I do think he has huge potential and Harry Fry has been very successful with sending horses over to Ireland with wins at Punchestown and Fairyhouse. If the horse was a bigger price he would have been under consideration, but 7/2 is very tight for one short on experience.
Southfield Royale has impressed me this season and dropping back in trip from his run at Cheltenham should suit him. He is running here over his best trip which is not something you can say about his rivals, and he is a decent price which lets us play each way. He should be fresh for this having had a break of 42 days and the stable is going well over the last few weeks and he rates a value bet