Syndicate Captain and racing expert Cheltmental gives his expert verdict on Sunday’s £3,000 Place 6 pool at Punchestown. He reckons that Andy Dufresne is a fantastic proposition in the feature race of the day.
Cheltmental: “Sundays and top class racing in Ireland go hand in hand and this Punchestown has a Grade 3 and Grade 2 on offer.”
12:30 – BEGINNERS CHASE – 2M 6 ½ F
The conditions of this race mean we’re looking at horses rated around the 100 mark, so the class I mentioned doesn’t apply here. In fact this might just prove to be the trappiest leg so I’m happy with three lines here to kick off.
CHEROKEE BILL is the oldest runner but has also achieved the highest rating of this field despite never winning a race. That’s the clear concern with him and the same applies to the second selection I’MSTILLYOURBABY who, in fairness, has been tried in decent company but was disappointing in a handicap hurdle when sent off joint favourite last time.
The safest option here appears to be IKNOWWHEREIAMNOW who won a mares handicap hurdle in November off 102 so, in this type of race, looks to have found a nice opportunity. She has won twice under rules from 17 starts but is still only a 6yo. The major worry with her is the trip here but in a weak enough looking affair I’d be happy to have her on side
Selections – CHEROKEE BILL, I’MSTILLYOURBABY, IKNOWWHEREIAMNOW
13:05 – NOVICES’ CHASE (GRADE 3) – 2M 4F
This second race is a Grade 3 contest and anyone who follows me will know I’ll be all about CAREFULLY SELECTED in this one.
His Cheltenham target is open for debate but I’d like to think he’s classy enough for an RSA also this Grade 3 entry might suggest otherwise. He’s been touted for the National Hunt Chase at The Festival and needs this run to qualify so, while I think he’s very good, he’ll be better when seen over further.
CITY ISLAND won The Ballymore last March but was pulled up on his chasing debut and never looked like doing anything. He was also well beaten at Punchestown at the end of last season. Mark Walsh is the regular rider but is on SPEAK EASY in this for JP McManus. Clearly CITY ISLAND is very talented but he’s a horse I’ve never warmed too.
SPEAK EASY for Mark Walsh and Joseph O’Brien has just one win to his name under rules and is another who might be better when seen over further, but this is his Grade.
LORD SCHNITZEL was second to CAREFULLY SELECTED when they first met but he’ll do well to get as close again. DALLAS DES PICTONS was an emphatic winner on his chasing bow before underwhelming at this level after. I’d be happy to put a line through that run and he’s won round here too.
Selections – CAREFULLY SELECTED, DALLAS DES PICTONS
13:35 – HANDICAP CHASE – 2M 4F
A 0-120 Handicap Chase here and ROXBORO ROAD for JP and Ted Walsh looks to have an outstanding chance. He’s failed to complete the last two, falling and slipping up, but went nicely before the mishaps in both instances and has run well round here before over fences.
WELL JOEY goes under Adam Short who is a jockey I like in this sphere. The pair managed a third placed finish over hurdles last month and they won over fences back in May. That was in the middle of a hat trick of wins so while his mark now demands a career best he’s interesting enough.
Selections – ROXBORO ROAD, WELL JOEY
14:10 – HANDICAP CHASE – 3M 1 ½ F
Just the 7 runners so only two places up for grabs but CHEB DE KERVINIOU comes in two pounds better off with BIDDY THE BOSS after their recent one-two and that might be enough to reverse form with Patrick Mullins now on CHEB.
FINAL LIST is the other Gordon Elliott runner who might just be able to find some improvement now finally stepped up in trip.
Selections – CHEB DE KERVINIOU, FINAL LIST
14:40 – NOVICES’ HURDLE (GRADE 2) – 2M
The feature race of the afternoon sees ANDY DUFRESNE drop back to the minimum trip for the first time since hurdling. He is a class horse and really should take all the beating. He was beaten by a nice type last time and, with most of the field looking exposed enough, you’d make CAPTAIN GUINESS the danger given how impressive he was on his first start back in December.
Selections – ANDY DUFRESNE, CAPTAIN GUINESS
15:15 – MARES’ HANDICAP HURDLE – 2M 4F
This race wouldn’t get the heart racing but another Adam Short mount is going on the slip with LAUREATE. The pair won a Maiden hurdle back in the summer and that came over 2m 3f. She might prefer some better ground but with the Cheek Pieces back off she’s interesting enough.
REBEL EARLY goes under Rachel Blackmore and she is versatile when it comes to ground. She unseated last time when looking to be in with a chance and that was her first try over the middle trip since her second ever start.
FAG AN BEALACH makes her handicap debut here and wouldn’t look too harshly treated when you look at her first two starts this season.
Selections – LAUREATE, REBEL EARLY, FAG AN BEALACH