More Grade 1 Greatness For Nichols
This Irish Trainers’ Championship is going to go right down to the wire at Punchestown and Willie Mullins could be set up for a Grade 1 double on Day 3 which will make things very interesting going into the weekend.
Nichols to fire in another Grade 1
In fairness to Nichols Canyon, he was a very backable proposition at the Cheltenham Festival given that he already had seven Grade 1 races racked up but the trip was still a bit of an unknown at that stage.
It’s not an unknown anymore and he should be up to completing the Stayers’ Hurdle double and claim a ninth win at the highest level.
His ability to mop up this amount of Grade 1 races is down to a lot of factors. He has been somewhat fortunate in being able to pick up when some of his highly regarded stable companions couldn’t run.
Willie’s placing of the horse has been excellent.
But it can’t be forgotten that Nichols Canyon remains the only horse to beat Faugheen in a race and you can’t knock his level of ability.
And he’s still only seven.
Following Nichols Canyon’s success at Cheltenham he can now go to America next month in search of a $500,000 bonus but it is the money on offer for the Stayers’ Hurdle that makes much more appeal to Willie Mullins at the moment and this could be another major boost in his championship challenge.
Ruby to fly away with another Grade 1
Much of the attention in the Ryanair Chase will revolve around the Mullins-trained Great Field who is unbeaten in his last three starts over fences and is clearly a very talented animal whose only defeat for Mullins came when pulling up in the County Hurdle.
However, he’s not the most straightforward of horses and despite the fact that Jody McGarvey clearly gets on so well with the horse, it is Townshend who is given the nod here at around about the 8/1 mark.
The selection certainly offers each-way value because a bit like his stable companion, Townshend has yet to show us the full capacity of his powers. The six-year-old was a facile winner at Naas before Cheltenham and is an unexposed type that has always been the subject of high praise from those in the Mullins camp and he’s given the nod here.
Nichols Canyon – 5:30 Punchestown
Townshend – 6:40 Punchestown
*Prices correct at time of publication