Jer’s The Girl To Deny Mullins Four In A Row
Champion 4YO Hurdle
It may not come as a surprise to learn that Willie Mullins holds a strong hand in Friday’s Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown (6.05).
Four in A Row For Mullins?
It’s a race he won for the last three years – and has the market leader this time around in A Toi Phil (4/1).
Having landed a Grade 2 in impressive fashion at Leopardstown in January (2m4f, soft), A Toi Phil was one of the leading fancies for Cheltenham’s Neptune last month, but flopped in being beaten 20l. It’s possible the quicker ground found him out that day, but he is capable of bouncing back should any rain hit Punchestown.
Mullins has a wealth of talented novices entered for this, including the in-form Up For Review who impressed in recording a career best at Perth last week (3m, good). It was a performance that saw him back to the sort of form which won him a Grade 2 in December, and he will be a danger to all if allowed to dictate from the front.
Thomas Hobson is another of the Mullins contenders who is more than capable of winning this prize. A Grade 2 winner in January (2m5f, heavy) prior to being pulled up at Cheltenham on quicker ground, the return to more familiar conditions on Friday will help and he is well priced at 12/1.
Nambour also deserves a mention, as he finished runner-up in a couple of Grade 2s, including over this trip and ground, and will have the stamina should it become a real test. He is consistent and may attract each-way backers at 20/1.
Improving Ger’s To Win Again?
Taking on the Mullins battalion is Gavin Cromwell’s Jer’s Girl (8/1), who ran out a convincing 13l winner of a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse last month (2m4f, yielding). Considering she beat her elders that day, she looks capable of following-up that victory if repeating the performance.
Distance Ideal For Tombstone
Gordon Elliott also throws his hat into the ring with Tombstone (9/1). This 6yo has run some big races at the highest level this term and was seen making late headway when fourth in the Supreme at Cheltenham last time (2m, good to soft). This return to further will suit (won over 2m2f), and his Grade 1 form makes him a real each-way contender.
Another at a big price is Liz Doyle’s 5yo Last Goodbye (14/1), a winner of his last four races.
The last of those came in a decent handicap at Cork last month (2m3f, heavy), and while this represents a rise in class, he is making great strides and handles quicker ground.
Fancied runners have done well in this race down the years – eight of the last 10 winners came from the first two in the betting and Jer’s Girl offers excellent value at 8/1. She improved massively for the step up in trip last time, handles decent ground and is open to more improvement.
*Prices correct at time of publication.