Punchestown Day 4
The Paddy Power Champion Hurdle features on Day 4 of the Punchestown Festival where arguably the star of the jumps season, Honeysuckle, puts her unbeaten record on the line. She has been absolutely incredible this season and put in a jaw droppingly good performance at Cheltenham to take the Champion Hurdle crown. She stole that crown from a certain Epatante who represents a strong English challenge alongside the enigma that is Goshen. We also have a Ballymore rematch on the cards where the seriously impressive Bob Olinger looks to confirm the form with Gaillard Du Mesnil.
Alpha Male can continue his fine record in Day 4 Opener
The first race of Day 4 is the Paddy Power Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup over two and a half miles. According to the betting this looks a match race between Rewritetherules and Alpha Male 9/4. Both of whom disappointed on their last start, but both have the best recent form on offer. Rewritetherules finds himself in much lesser company but failed to show a great deal at Aintree. At the prices, I’ll side with Alpha Male who ran a decent enough race when third two starts back and clearly loves this race having finished first in 2018 and second in 2019. He gets the vote to make it form figures of 121 in this contest.
Phillip and Phil can combine for an English Success
With Willie Mullins banging in the winners left right and centre, Asterion Forlonge is likely to be a warm favourite for the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase despite conceding plenty of weight all round. He can throw in the odd jumping error though and he will have to put up quite the performance to win this off a mark of 152. Unsurprisingly, plenty of these could be sat on nice handicap marks and I believe Dostal Phil 6/1 is on a mark to strike. A striking debut over fences was followed by a slightly disappointing couple of runs but he bounced back to form when storming home for third at Aintree. This step up in trip looks a good move and I would expect him to improve for the extra half mile. Simon Torrens takes off 3lbs, bringing him down to a mark of 135. Sully D’Oc AA has franked the form of Dostal Phil’s last run in a major way and Phillip Hobbs is no stranger to sending across successful raiders. The signs are there for a very big run.
Take a chance on Salsaretta for Danny and Willie Mullins
A Mares handicap chase over 2 miles and 5 furlongs is next up on the card where a competitive field of 13 go to post. Scarlet And Dove heads the betting for Joseph O’Brien and has solid claims on the pick of her form. Magic Of Light is another with very smart snippets of form but I’ve decided to take a chance on Salsaretta 11/1 for Team Mullins. Willie has been on fire this week and despite not being seen to best effect this season, Salsaretta has long been held in high regard. Four impressive chase wins last year prompted her to soar to favouritism for the early stages of the Mares Chase antepost betting. Things haven’t gone to plan this season though and she’s had her jumping issues. She did run a much better race when finishing fourth to Colreevy and Elimay at Cheltenham before jumping poorly again and not staying in the Irish National. Back in calmer waters. I’m hoping her jumping will be under less pressure and she can get into a rhythm. After all, that Colreevy form isn’t looking too bad now!
Champion Hurdle Heroine set to extend her unbeaten record
The feature race of the day is the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle where Honeysuckle 8/11 will bid to make it a perfect 13 wins in 13 lifetime starts. She was electric at Cheltenham and put in a flawless display to trounce her rivals by an easy six and a half lengths. The gears she has demonstrated in both the Irish and English Champion Hurdles have been frightening. She cruised clear on both occasions putting each race to bed before jumping the last. She tops the field on Official Ratings and that’s without even factoring in the 7lb Mares allowance! If she runs to the level we know she is capable of she should be extremely hard to beat. This is horse racing though and big shocks are always just around the corner. Epatante will be looking to cause a shock after a fine effort behind Honeysuckle at Cheltenham. Conditions are perfect for her and she should get a strong pace to aim at. Whether she can reach the levels Honeysuckle can, I’m not so sure. Goshen is a fascinating runner having blown his chances when hanging badly right at Cheltenham. This return to a right- handed track should suit and there is no doubt that he’s an extremely talented horse. He has become an extremely risky proposition though and the ground may be a bit on the quick side for him. For those looking to have a play in the-each way markets, Abacadabras is the one I believe may win the race second. He took a tumble at Cheltenham but was a good winner of the Aintree Hurdle over a trip that probably stretched him. He was a good second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and I think he’ll be the one to chase her home.
Bob Olinger to prove he’s all class in Ballymore re-match
Bob Olinger 4/7 provided me with one of my favourite ever Cheltenham Festival wins this year when he cruised clear turning for home and shot up the hill for Ballymore success. He heads the betting for the Grade 1 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle where he will face Gaillard Du Mesnil once again. I think Bob Olinger is a bit of a monster and expect him to confirm the form and enhance his growing reputation. I believe Gaillard Du Mesnil may want slightly further and softer ground to be seen at his very best whilst Bob has already proven his liking for two and a half miles on a sounder surface. If there is to be one question mark against Bob it may be how effective he is on a right-handed track. His only defeat to date did come this way round but it was at the hands of Ferny Hollow, over 2 miles, on his hurdles debut. So, to put it bluntly, he should be fine going right- handed! Ashdale Bob has shown a fair level of form this season and would be of interest in the each- way/place markets. He does have to improve significantly to challenge the top two though and Decimation didn’t enhance the form of his last win on day 2.
Bob And Co can land another blow for Nicholls
The English raiders have done well so far this week and I’m hoping Paul Nicholls can strike again with Bob And Co 7/2 in the Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase. Billaway currently heads the market but has had a gruelling campaign and I just wonder whether this is one race too far. Bob And Co was a running a big race against that rival before taking a tumble at Cheltenham but has since had a nice confidence booster at Hexham. He appears to be on extremely good terms with himself and I’m hopeful he can run a very big race. It Came To Pass is another who could run a big race with conditions to really suit. He hasn’t appeared to be at his best this season though and disappointed at Cheltenham. At 25/1 he could be worth chancing.
El Barra can go well in competitive Novice Hurdle for his powerful connections
The penultimate race of the day is a fiercely competitive novices hurdle over 2 miles. The likes of Keskonrisk, M C Muldoon and Fire Attack all have attractive profiles but I’m going to side with a form line that helped me out earlier in the week. Day 2 33/1 preview winner was nicely beaten by El Barra 14/1 who goes here for Willie Mullins and Sean O’Keeffe. As touched upon in the Day 2 preview, this form line seems a little overlooked given how well the horses coming out of it are running. El Barra has long been considered a decent prospect by connections and it could be he has taken a little longer to come to hand. His last win was a clear career best and if he improves further, I think he’s a lovely price at 14/1.
Patrick Mullins can continue magnificent week with a win in the last
The final race of day 4 is a Bumper over 2 miles and 2 furlongs. This looks an interesting Bumper with a few of these fetching some hefty price tags at the sales. Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins tend to have a right ding-dong battle for leading amateur every season and Patrick looks to be coming out on top this time around. I think he may do so here too with My Mate Mozzie 7/4 who won his point to point with the minimum of fuss and subsequently fetched £205,000 at the sales. Gavin Cromwell is no stranger to Bumper winners and I’d expect this fella to be primed for this. He could be an extremely exciting horse going forward.
By Sam Rideout
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