Syndicate Captain Cheltmental offers us his views on the £10,000 Boosted Place 6 pool on the second day of the Punchestown Festival 2019, where Al Boum Photo and Kemboy are set to contest the Punchestown Gold Cup.
15:40 – Series Final Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 95-123) 2m5f
Another trappy looking opener to start the day but there are a few runners in here who I expect to run well. From Eden couldn’t handle the step up in trip last time out but, running off 116 here and back at 2m5f, means he’s worth a place on the shortlist.
Big Nick was a horse that I expected to do quite well this season but he’s gone backwards and his jumping needs improvement. That being said, I think he’s potentially much better than his current mark. Press Conference beat this horse convincingly on his second hurdle start and that came when beating the well regarded Annamix. His mark of 123 also appears to be workable but his two weakest runs have come at this track.
Conron was tried in a Grade 3 where he faced Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen, so it’s no surprise that he was well beaten. Prior to that though, he did win around this track but that win came over 2m.
In March the penny appeared to have finally dropped for Musical Slave, with two wins coming within a week and this extra trip could bring out further improvement.
Selections – From Eden, Press Conference, Big Nick, Conron, Musical Slave
16:20 – Auction Hurdle Series Final (4yo+) 2m4f
This conditions race might have been without Zero Ten, who wouldn’t have qualified if he had won last time out in a Grade 2 when only beaten by half a length. He did look like a travelling horse, by which I mean he looks as though he’s going much easier than he probably actually is, but he’s still the best horse in the race on what we’ve seen and, despite conceding weight all round, he’ll be there or there about.
Voix Des Tiep was due to run in that Grade 2 also but was ruled out on veterinary advice but he’s looked progressive, although it took him being dropped to 2m before he got his head in front. He has form behind The Big Dog who was thrown in the deep end in a Grade 1 recently. Providing he’s come out of that ok then he has a good chance of upholding that form at least.
Whatsafellatodo makes his stable debut after notching up back-to-back wins and, considering his mark of 121, he could have found an easier introduction if he had wanted to. That should speak volumes of his potential alongside the booking of Mark Walsh.
Selections – Zero Ten, Voix Des Tiep, The Big Dog, Whatsafellatodo
16:55 – Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4yo+) 2m4f
Another conditions race which means hurdle winners carry a penalty but, with six of the eight runners falling into that category, it’s not a huge factor.
Willie Mullins is represented with three runners and two of those have lengthy absences to overcome. Crack Tiepy won on her stable bow back in November 2016 and did so in good style. That was over this trip but did come on much slower ground, although she ran ok on GS in France. She was also in receipt of plenty of weight as she raced that day as a 4yo.
Crack Mome was last seen when well beaten in the 2017 Supreme Novice Hurdle and that was his first attempt on quicker than soft ground. He wasn’t beaten far in a Grade 2 hurdle before that Cheltenham run but it’s hard to know where he is now. Both runners are 7yo’s with the latter running in a hood and tongue tie combination for the first time.
He also saddles Elimay who is a pretty small mare and was an eyecatcher in a Mares Grade 3 hurdle in December. She was getting lots of weight that day as she raced as a 4yo but, on these terms, you couldn’t rule her out of going well, especially on this flatter track.
Vision D’Honneur is a right hand merchant if ever I’ve seen one and he bolted up round here in January. Given that his three runs behind Klassical Dream all came left handed, I think they read quite well and he’s the class horse in the race for me.
Paloma Blue reverts back to hurdles after an underwhelming Novice Chase campaign and flopped round here last season. While Valdieu hasn’t really progressed since landing his maiden hurdle, this step up trip should help.
Dermot Weld’s runner Days Without End is interesting but hard to place and Harry Fry sends the well regarded Caribert over, who will have needed his last start when a well beaten second. He’d need to step up on all known form but is entitled to have improved.
Selection – Vision D’Honneur
17:30 – Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m
Given we have the first three to get home in the Albert Bartlett running here, it’s not surprise to see a fairly open betting heat. Minella Indo was 50/1 when winning at Cheltenham but I’d touched on how that appeared to be a big price difference between him and Allaho, considering the former had to do all the donkeywork when they met the time before and was on better terms. Given the latter is a year his junior there is scope for improvement which might see the form reversed. Commander Of Fleet split the pair and he’s another 5yo so, on this sharper track, he should be on in contention again.
The fact that Carefully Selected is not far off that trio in the betting but has only had one spin over hurdles, speaks volumes of how highly thought of he is. I had him pinned a long way out as an Albert Bartlett type and he might have run there had Willie not taken out his entry earlier this year when the ground slowed up after some late rain, which would have meant that he could have had a prep run. Owners like this track so it was the plan a while back and I think he’s a very interesting runner. Typically, winners of this race have done well enough at Handicap, although Bellshill would be the exception in recent years.
At bigger prices Defi Bleu would need a big step forward on all known form, as would recent winner Go Another One but Walk Away can be given great credit for his effort at Aintree, as I’m told he had an issue and hadn’t been able to work in the build up. He was really only there as a travelling partner for Chris’s Dream. He’ll certainly be one for fences but I’d expect a step forward from that latest effort. If First Approach could settle, he’s better than he’s been showing but he was poor round here last season which would be another concern.
Selections – Minella Indo, Allaho, Carefully Selected, Walk Away
18:05 – Punchestown Gold Cup (Chase) (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m120y
A cracking line up for this race, with Willie Mullins expected to land the prize. Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo would probably have won the Novice Chase here last year if it hadn’t been for a final flight incident and, given this season’s efforts, he’s very much the one to beat.
Kemboy would be the most likely danger as far as the bookmakers are concerned and his Aintree win was ultra impressive. That backed up his win in the Savills Chase at Christmas and he has won round here previously. I do still worry a bit about his jumping and it will be crucial that Ruby gets him into a clear lead and allows him to have time at his fences.
Last years winner Bellshill made his own errors at Cheltenham which put paid to his chance of glory but he’s probably better right handed and away from Cheltenham so I’d expect a bold bid here. I would say though, this is a far better renewal than last year.
Monalee has had stamina doubts in the past but I think he’s just an exposed horse and is just shy of this Grade and the remainder of the field shouldn’t be good enough to play a major role.
Selections – Al Boum Photo, Kemboy, Bellshill
18:40 – Flat Race For The Conyngham Cup (Grade 1) (4-7yo) 2m70y
Willie Mullins led home the first three in this race last year and, while we’ve not seen a great deal of that trio this season (including nothing from runner up Blackbow), they had the Cheltenham Festival winner Relegate in behind and it in good looking form. Willie runs three in this renewal with Patrick siding with Mt Leinster. An impressive winner on bumper debut but he’s yet to win in four starts since. He was beaten last time out by Golden Spread who re-opposes here from the same yard and Barry O’Neill keeps the ride on that runner.
Jamie Codd picks up the mount of the remaining Mullins inmate with Colreevy, who won at this meeting last season. She was entitled to have needed her latest run and she should not be discounted, even against the boys.
The other mare is Santa Rossa, who was third at Aintree, and her earlier form has been well advertised. Abacadabras ran out behind eventual Cheltenham Festival winner Envoi Allen on his penultimate start but was readily held the on lis last race behind the same horse. I do think this flatter track will suit him however and he’s still a raw horse.
Beacon Edge skipped the festival and has all his form on this type of ground and he will have come on from his stable debut, so I think he looks a major player. He was just behind Embittered that day who is a course winner and the pair have solid form.
House Island won at 40/1 on his last start but it was a pretty good performance from him in isolation and Derek O’Connor rides.
Selections – Golden Spread, Beacon Edge, Abacadabras, Mt Leinster, Embittered