It’s Day Four of the Punchestown Festival with the feature event being the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at 5.30 in which Hurricane Fly is on a recovery mission after blowing out badly in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle last month. There are two other Grade One events on the card, the Ryanair Novices Chase at 4.55 and the Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle at 6.05.
4.55 – Punchestown – It will be interesting to see if they run the chase events today after casting them aside this week so for that reason I shall be brief in my assessment of this novice event over two miles in which, on form, only MENORAH and First Lieutenant can be fancied. However, with his superior pace the former will surely take a deal of beating despite still not convincing at his obstacles.
BET NOW – MENORAH
5.30 – Punchestown – It is interesting to hear that trainer Willie Mullins is very keen on the chance of HURRICANE FLY to retain his title after losing his Cheltenham crown. The big plus is that he comes here a fresh horse, has no real two mile specialist to take on and his nearest rival in the betting, stable mate Thousand Stars, has had a long season and had a very tough race at Aintree only 13 days ago. It’s an uninspired selection for those of you seeking value, but the champ looks to have a straightforward task.
BET NOW – HURRICANE FLY
6.05 – Punchestown – Colour Squadron would have been placed second behind Simonsig had he not fallen at Aintree and if he can get his legs organised for once looks a player. Paul (Jacobs) told me that he thought the horse was a better animal on quicker ground than this, but there was nothing wrong with his effort at Sandown on very soft ground so we shall see.
Felix Yonger comes out top of my private ratings, but I am convinced that although he acts on a heavy surface, he is crying out for no worse than good to soft and he is a favourite well worth opposing. Looking at the past results this week I am looking for a soft ground horse that likes to race prominently and LYREEN LEGEND fits the bill. He couldn’t summon the pace to beat Jenari last time out at Fairyhouse, but that was on the quickest ground he has raced on and as long as he has not gone over the top I think he is huge each-way value if you can get something like 6/1 about him; he looks an each-way bet to nothing.
BET NOW – LYREEN LEGEND (each-way)