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Punchestown Festival – Day Four Through The Card Selections

The Punchestown Festival rolls into day four, which includes another two Grade 1’s on the card. State Man will be looking to resume winning ways in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, whilst the impressive Impaire Et Passe will bid to remain unbeaten by winning the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle.

GG Editor Jake Russell guides us through his selections & analysis for all 8 races on Day 4 of the Punchestown Festival.

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Odds correct at time of posting – 4.55pm Thursday 27th April

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3.40 Stanley Asphalt Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup

A real head scratcher to start Day 4 of the Punchestown Festival, with most of these having letters to their name rather than numbers, but it is an excellent chance for the amateurs to get a big festival winner. An Droichead Gorm has some modest hurdle and chase form and is a winning pointer but he did finish last of 6 runner’s last time. After spending some time looking at them, my eyes were drawn to JET FIGHTER (15/2 generally), who was a fair chaser back in the day for previous trainer Brian Ellison, a point-to-point winner this year for new connections, he ran a very good sixth in the Cross Country here a few days back although well beaten, he was behind some very classy sorts for this code. Should he be all ok after that run, then he is the one to beat for me.    

Specialist Group Handicap Hurdle

4.15 EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A)

In what looks a tricky race at first, does have some runners in it that were quite highly thought of earlier on in the season. Life In The Park was a nice winner on Chase debut back in September last year, but didn’t back it up next time, when finished a disappointing last of 3 runners at Cheltenham. He did look somewhat back to form last time when finishing a 3-length 3rd in a Grade 3 Chase at Limerick, which can be upgraded slightly considering it was his first run back since October. That performance at Cheltenham does leave a few question marks though, so it may be safe to stick with KILCRUIT (9/2 generally). Once a very decent Bumper horse, he was quickly run over fences and has looked to relish that, winning on Chase debut before going on to run in some pretty tough Grade 1 races since, where he ran with credit. Stepping into Handicap company for the first time, off the mark of 148 looks to be in his favour, and he is the one who will have the class edge in this race. 

Pigsback.com Handicap Chase (Grade B)

4.50 Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase (Grade 2) 

IMPERVIOUS (10/11 generally) and Allegorie De Vassy put in an excellent showing in the Mares Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month with Pink Legend in behind who has won a Listed contest since, with the fore mentioned horse winning by just under 3 lengths with an impressive display. The Willie Mullins horse has ran since, finishing a relatively disappointing 2nd in a Listed contest at Fairyhouse earlier on in the month. Impervious looks a real star chaser in the making, winning all four of her starts over the larger obstacles, she still looks to be improving with each passing run. She is slightly fresher than her market rival, which will play to her strengths, she is the highest rated in the field and I think there is much more to come from her. Impervious is the one to side with for me.

Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase

5.25 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

If it wasn’t for a certain Constitution Hill, we would be waxing lyrical about STATE MAN (1/2 generally) and how he is the face of the 2-mile Hurdling division, however although he is a very, very good horse in his own right, he was firmly put in his place by a freak in the Champion Hurdle at the festival. Although State Man has done absolutely nothing wrong, last year’s County Hurdle winner, he has come on leaps and bounds since, winning four Grade 1’s, including a romp in the Irish Champion Hurdle in February. He had most of these behind him that day, as he made all to win going away by just under 5 lengths. Although there are some equally classy rivals in this race, including last year’s Triumph winner Vauban, I just can’t see any of them landing a glove on the favourite in this, and it is surely just a matter of how far he will win by.    

Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

6.00 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 

Another short priced favourite for the Willie Mullins camp and it’s another one that deserves to be in that position. IMPAIRE ET PASSE (1/3 generally), for me has been the most impressive Novice Hurdler this season, he is unbeaten in all of his four starts both in bumpers and hurdles, and his Ballymore performance last time out really blew me away. That was his first run at that sort of trip, of even two miles plus, and it seemed to bring even more improvement out of him. He travelled very smoothly indeed, before going on to pull clear up the Cheltenham Hill, with recent Grade 1 winning Gaelic Warrior 7 lengths behind, that form has worked out excellently with the latter winning a Grade 1 at this festival. I just can’t see anything in this contest anywhere near his level, and he should really be winning this comfortably, before going onto even more things next year.

Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

6.35 Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase

Billaway has been an excellent servant for connections, a Cheltenham Festival winner he always seems to run very well throughout the season, but he has had a busy time of late, falling at the festival this year before going on too be firmly put in his place by Annamix last time out in a Hunters Chase at Fairyhouse where he finished second. He is probably starting to show signs that he is not the same horse of old. That being said, Annamix was very impressive last time out when beating in, and he hails from a yard very much in form this week, so he could take another step up and land a contest like this. However, VAUCELET (2/1 generally) arrives to this race with a nice little break after not being seen since running at the Cheltenham Festival last month. He was well fancied that day and did disappoint, but he strikes me as a horse that could easily put a bad run behind him and go well again next time out. His form before that is decent however, with two wins in four chase starts this season. I will be happy to say he will put that last run behind him and go well in this, with a rating of 5lbs lower than last time.

Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase

7.10 SalesSense International Novice Hurdle

Sa Majeste looks an interesting type on paper, having had the two runs over in France for previous trainer Yannick Fouin, which includes a length victory in a Conditions Hurdle at Auteuil, it’s hard to gauge his ability at this stage but it might be worth watching the market with him. Firm Footings and MONBEG PARK (9/4 generally) set the standard in this contest, with both of them having the two highest ratings in the field. And it’s the latter I have decided to side with here. A horse that has had a busy time of late, he has been slowly progressing up the ratings without winning, which would usually concern me however I can’t see much in this field to take him on with. He was first past the post last time out at Fairyhouse when contesting in a 16-runner field but was disqualified and demoted to second after some interference. With this being a fairly similar contest, he could go past the post in front again here, with recent Punchestown Gold Cup heroine JJ Slevin taking the reins, a very good jockey booking. He is the one they have all got to beat for me, off level weights (Aside from the one filly and younger horse) 

SalesSense International Novice Hurdle

7.45 Avison Young INH Flat Race

Another very typically competitive bumper to close the card, a race that somewhat lacks the potential star quality of some of the other bumpers. Quantum Storm finished runner up in a point to point, and did so again in a bumper last time, so he could improve to win this. But the Champion Bumper form does look to hold the aces in this as Willie Mullins’s LECKY WATSON (2/1 generally) finished a very gallant 4th in the race, only getting beaten by just under 6 lengths and finished close up with pretty much all the other runners. He slightly slipped under the radar that day, going off at the price of 80/1, so needs to back it up and prove that wasn’t a fluke, but he hails from a top yard who know how to get these horses to improve, so he is very much the one to side with for me. Patrick Mullins knows his way around here with these horses, so it’s another eye-catching jockey booking. 

Avison Young INH Flat Race


3.40 Punchestown – JET FIGHTER (15/2 generally)

4.15 Punchestown – KILCRUIT (9/2 generally)

4.50 Punchestown – IMPERVIOUS (10/11 generally)

5.25 Punchestown – STATE MAN (1/2 generally)

6.00 Punchestown – IMPAIRE ET PASSE (1/3 generally)

6.35 Punchestown – VAUCELET (2/1 generally)

7.10 Punchestown – MONBEG PARK (9/4 generally)

7.45 Punchestown – LECKY WATSON (2/1 generally)

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