Elliott The Man To Put Mullins To The Sword
Willie Mullins has used the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle as a good stepping stone to the Cheltenham Festival in the past.
His two runners in Punchestown’s feature race look likely to head the betting again but there might be a new trainer added to the roll of honour today.
Elliott the man to put Mullins to the Sword
For the moment at least Harrie and Buidmeupbuttercup wouldn’t look to be Willie Mullins’ strongest hand for this race but the ground is again a factor towards that.
Harrie, the mount of Ruby Walsh, drops back in trip from 2m5f to 2m, a move that Mullins feels will suit his charge but it’s Swordsman who is tipped to oblige.
Gordon Elliott’s charge is also taking a drop in trip having won over 2m4f at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day but he really was impressive on that occasion and can be expected to come on for that outing.
Swordsman was previously runner-up to the very smart Dunvegan and he could make it a good week for the trainer and the sire Doyen as it would be a Grade 2 triumph to back up the Grade 1 success at Naas of Battleoverdoyen.
With Felix Desjy in the line up there will be no shortage of pace and that should suit Swordsman who will have no problem with this race turning into a bit more of a stamina test but we can probably expect Swordsman to be prominent himself meaning there’ll no hiding places here.
Early prices suggest that Swordsman will be around about the 4/1 mark.
That’s a good bet in a fairly open renewal of the race with the top two possibly at the head of the market because of the record of Mullins in the race.
Maguire ready for National glory
The Punchestown Amateur National is a good opportunity for some of the leading riders in the amateur ranks to ride over the Punchestown Gold Cup course and distance.
Finny Maguire was the leading amateur over the Christmas period at Leopardstown and his 3lbs claim is a big bonus for backers of Whisperinthebreeze today.
Jessica Harrington’s charge was no match for rivals in novice events so far this season but back in a handicap could bring out the best in the six-year-old who appears well treated off 126.
Whisperinthebreeze had a good run at Fairyhouse last season in a novice handicap hurdle off a similar mark and while he lacks a bit of experience over fences compared to some of todays rivals, he could just be less exposed than many of them too with likely favourite Se Mo Laoch having gone up over a stone for his recent efforts.
The step up in trip shouldn’t inconvenience Whisperinthebreeze and he’ll definitely appreciate the ground better than most so there are plenty of positives and he should be a decent price to go with it.
Whisperinthebreeze (6/1) – 2.20 Punchestown
Swordsman (5/1) – 2.50 Punchestown
*Prices correct at time of publication