Niall Cronin’s Punchestown Festival Tips – Day 1
The most high profile five days in Irish racing begins on Tuesday at Punchestown and the BoyleSports Champion Chase is the first of four €300,000 championship races throughout the week.
Merciless Mullins mobhanded in Champion
Last year’s winner Un De Sceaux and talented stable companion Great Field flank Min as Willie Mullins unleashes three powerhouses for the two mile chase.
Regardless of who trains the trio, it is a race that pitches a group of very high class chasers together and it would be no surprise if anyone of the three Mullins runners come out on top.
Having walked the track at Punchestown on Monday morning, there is no doubt that it is currently lovely jumping ground and that should play to the strengths of Min over Un De Sceaux who probably still does just want a bit more juice to be at his very best.
Great Field certainly has a mind of his own but when he puts his best foot forward and a clear round of jumping, he is one of the most talented jumpers out there.
The vote goes to Min. Good here when winning the John Durkan and again at the Dublin Racing Festival, connections rightly tried something different at Cheltenham and while it didn’t work, it was just an attempt to try and beat Altior when other ways failed.
Min showed his class back at Aintree over two and a half miles and should have no problem back at Punchestown over two miles.
It could be another big afternoon for Willie Mullins as he also boasts a strong hand in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.
A nursery for future champions over the years, Mullins himself as a good record in the race even if it is not with his fancied runner.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream is a shade of odds on but looks worth adding to any accumulator. Felix Desjy ran a nice race in the Supreme but was still fifth and while he came out and won at Aintree since, that should only boost the form of the Supreme winner.
It should also be noted that Klassical Dream can still be improving as he only won his maiden at Christmas, triumphed again at the Dublin Racing Festival and then won at Cheltenham. He would look one of the better bets of the day.
McConnell to celebrate local winner
BoyleSports ambassador Robbie Power appears to have picked up a good ride in the Killashee Handicap Hurdle on Pearl Of The West for John McConnell.
The five-year-old daughter of Teofilo was no match for Verdana Blue in the Scottish Champion Hurdle but not much was on that occasion and Pearl Of The West may have ran better than her finishing place suggested on that occasion.
A little more ease in the ground shouldn’t do her any harm as there was firm in the description that day and there’s just a chance she hasn’t hit the ceiling of her ability over hurdles yet judging by her Cheltenham win last October.
She ran well on the Flat at Dundalk last month and the trainer is having a good time of things at the moment so while the Joseph O’Brien-trained four-year-old Konitho might prove a blot on the handicap, Pearl Of The West could just be a better priced alternative.
Klassical Dream (8/11) – 4.20 Punchestown
Pearl Of The West – 4.55 Punchestown
Min (8/13) – 5.30 Punchestown