In the write up yesterday we said that Coney Island had improve by about 8 pounds and we were not far wrong and he was beaten by only half a length by Bellshill who managed to hang on. So he only improved 7 1/2 pounds!!
(The commentator had to make me laugh calling Bellshill Bellslife half the time!! Not the first time I have heard him call horses the wrong name)
Captain Conan ran a decent race and finished just out of the places in 6th and only a couple of lengths off 4th.
So onwards and upwards and we go into day 3 with a couple of shorter priced selections.
The team at Cleeve
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4.15 Punchestown Three.ie Handicap Chase
Top 4 Rated:
1) Days Hotel
2) Bold Henry
3) Gentleman Duke
4) Jacksonslady and Rock the World (joint fourth)
I would have been keen on Days Hotel at this level if the ground was soft or heavy as all his wins have been on ground with a lot of cut. He just lacks the pace on better ground to compete; however improves ten pounds plus on softer going. A multiple winner at Grade 2 level he should place dropping back to Handicap level.
Bold Henry fell in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual at Cheltenham but was already beaten at that point. He has won at Class 2 level and his chase wins have come on much softer going than he faces here. I have doubts about his jumping when going at pace and his mistakes will probably hinder his chances in this.
Gentleman Duke and Jacksonslady are owned by JP McManus (as is Bold Henry) and it is interesting that Barry Geraghty has picked Bold Henry ahead of these two. Of the two I prefer Jacksonslady, which won this race last season off a five pounds lower mark. Being a year older and carrying more weight will probably see him miss out here.
Rock the World from the red hot Jessie Harrington stable is less exposed than most of these and drops back in trip following his run at Aintree. He finished third in the Johnny Henderson and that is pretty good form, plus he does not appear to be ground dependent. He has got scope to improve and if jumping well should win this.
5.30 Punchestown Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
Top 3 Rated:
1) Thousand Star
2) Alpha des Obeaux
3) Lieutenant Colonel
Thousand Stars deserves our admiration for his consistency over a prolonged career and that is what gives him the top rating here. I do think his best is behind him even though I can see him staying on to take third if others falter in the final couple of furlongs.
Alpha des Obeaux is a short priced favourite as he does not have to face Thistlecrack here after he was withdrawn. Alpha des Obeaux is also incredibly consistent; however he has a knack of finishing second and is yet to win at Grade 1 level. I do think he has the ability to win this, but does not represent any sort of value at 5/4.
Lieutenant Colonel is one of three Gigginstown horses in the field and has won at Grade 1 level. He was fourth in this race last year behind Jezki, Hurricane Fly and Zabana (winner here yesterday), which is pretty good form. He had a bad blunder three out in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and was pulled up shortly after, so he needs to have fully recovered from that. If at his best he does have place claims, but I cannot see him winning.
Shaneshill is interesting having finished second to Thistlecrack at Aintree last time, but he has had a long season and may be of need of a rest at this stage.
Diamond King is just outside the top three rated and rates ahead of Shaneshill. Diamond King won the Coral Cup at Cheltenham a bit easier than on first glance and although this is a step up in both class and distance I think he is capable of winning this. He has improved since he was stepped up in distance from 2 miles to further and I expect he will improve again upped to three miles. I have placed a minimum win stake on him as his price makes each way a little less of a value play. He has the advantage of having only had four runs this season so will be a lot fresher than most.