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PUNCHESTOWN TIPS: Your free guide to Thursday's card
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PUNCHESTOWN TIPS: Your free guide to Thursday's card
on 27 April 2017
Ronan Groome takes you through the busy eight-race card at Punchestown

3:40 JLT HANDICAP HURDLE

Le Vagabond will be difficult to beat in this if he can translate his good flat form to hurdles. Edward O’Grady’s gelding hasn’t been seen jumping since last May but has improved his flat rating by 15lbs since then, winning twice and running with credit in some big handicaps. He warmed up for this with a good second to Roconga at Cork and he should have his ideal conditions here.

British raider Stamp Your Feet won a valuable handicap hurdle at Haydock on his previous start and Mark Walsh has picked him from a choice of two JP McManus runners, so he is respected. Sweet Company, representing Tony Martin and ridden by Denis O’Regan, gets in right at the foot of the weights and is of interest. He ran well behind Le Vagabond on the flat at Cork and had previously shown promise in a maiden hurdle at Listowel.

SELECTION: LE VAGABOND NEXT BEST: SWEET COMPANY LONGSHOT: STAMP YOUR FEET

4:15 PIGSBACK.COM NICK COEN MEMORIAL HANDICAP CHASE

Don’t Touch It renews rivalry with his Fairyhouse conqueror Hurricane Ben and he can reverse the form in this race. Jessica Harrington’s gelding is returning to the track he won a Grade 1 at last season. Couple that with the fact that he is having just his sixth run over fences so could well improve again and he is also now 8lbs better off with James Sheehan’s runner.

Cheltenham winner Tully East should play a part, on his favoured good ground while Sizing Platinum, representing Colin Tizzard, Alan Potts and Robbie Power, has some really good form in the book, including a second to Tuesday’s Champion Chase winner Fox Norton earlier in the season. He disappointed at Cheltenham but is wearing a tongue tie for the first time here and would be a big player if he puts his best foot forward.

SELECTION: DON’T TOUCH IT NEXT BEST: TULLY EAST LONGSHOT: SIZING PLATINUM

4:50 FRIENDS FIRST CROSS COUNTRY CHASE FOR THE LA TOUCHE CUP

This race looks at the mercy of Cantlow for banks master Enda Bolger. The 12-year-old, who has been reinvigorated since joining up with Bolger, must carry top-weight 12st 7lb, but easily holds the best form in the race. He won over this course and distance already this season and was then able to back that up with a win over the Cheltenham banks course before adding two more solid runs at Prestbury Park. He should have too much for his seven rivals here, with Mark Walsh taking the ride.

Treo Eile ran well over this course on Tuesday so he could give the favourite most to do while Bolger’s other runner Love Rory, would be a player if he came back to form.

SELECTION: CANTLOW NEXT BEST: LOVE RORY LONGSHOT: TREO EILE

5:30 LADBROKES CHAMPION STAYERS HURDLE

This is a very good renewal with five of the first six home in the Cheltenham equivalent all taking each other on again. This time however, Nichols Canyon is playing at home, and deserves to be favourite. Willie Mullins’s gelding has been to Punchestown three times and come away three wins, all in Grade 1 races. He has more scope to improve over this trip and there seems to be no real reason why his immediate pursuers, Lil Rockerfeller or Unowhatimeanharry, should turn around the form.

Sutton Place looked good when he stayed on at Navan on his previous run, beating De Plotting Shed and Renneti, who boosted that form by running first and second in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse. The son of Mahler was pulled out of that Fairyhouse race on account of the fast ground and that would appear to be the main worry for his chance here.

One outsider that is worth consideration is Footpad who looks to be crying out for this step up in trip. He has performed admirably over two miles this season and finished an excellent fourth in the Champion Hurdle.

SELECTION: NICHOLS CANYON NEXT BEST: LIL ROCKERFELLER LONGSHOT: FOOTPAD

Take a chance on Sadler's Risk (blue) going well back over hurdles at a track he likes.

6:05 SHAMROCK ENTERPRISES HANDICAP HURDLE

This looks an absolute minefield and a legitimate case could be made for at least 10 runners. Harry Fry’s Minella Awards is sure to be popular. He is a lightly-raced six-year-old coming off a career best performance to win at Sandown on his latest start. No Comment is another British raider to consider while both Showem Silver and Conduct Yourself come into this off valuable handicap wins from respective Easter festivals at Fairyhouse and Cork.

Sadler’s Risk is an interesting for Henry de Bromhead. He is just short of top class as a chaser and is racing off a mark of 137 over hurdles here. He was a little disappointing on his previous run which was also over hurdles but that was his first run since November and the ground may well have been too soft for him. Back at Punchestown, where he won a Grade 3 chase earlier this season, and back on good ground, he looks worth taking a chance on

Oscar Sam is another worth considering for the in-form Jessica Harrington. He ran well to finish third to Isleofhopendreams around this track on his previous run and he should enjoy the ground conditions today. Okotoks is one a bigger price worth a second look as well. He is a lightly-raced seven-year-old who is interestingly taking a big step up in trip.

SELECTION: SADLER’S RISK NEXT BEST: OSCAR SAM LONGSHOT: OKOTOKS

Great Field is likely to try and make all in the Ryanair Novice Chase under regular partner Jody McGarvey (Photo HEALY RACING)

6:40 RYANAIR NOVICE CHASE

A race that revolves around the free-running Great Field who looks set to blast off in front and try to wear down his rivals. He has looked really good so far and has also seen his form significantly boosted through Hurricane Ben and Don’t Touch It, who he beat on each of his respective previous two races, finishing first and second in a good handicap chase at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival. The one concern about him is his jumping as he is prone to throw in an absolute howler and Ger Fox may have to produce another great ‘sit’ on him if he is to prevail.

However, he will also have to face a fair yardstick in Ball D’Arc. Gordon Elliott’s horse has progressed leaps and bounds this season and ran right up to his best when third to Road To Respect and Yorkhill in the Ryanair Gold Cup. The return to two miles will suit him and at around the 6/1 mark, he represents fair value. Baily Cloud only finished a length behind Ball D’Arc at Fairyhouse, which was an excellent run and he looks a fair price at around the 40/1 mark.

SELECTION: BALL D’ARC NEXT BEST: GREAT FIELD LONGSHOT: BAILY CLOUD

7:15 ALANNA HOME MARES NOVICE HURDLE

This is another race that is likely to feature a Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott-trained runners at top of the market. There is very little to separate Barra and Good Thyne Tara on their running in the Grade 1 mares’ novice hurdle at Punchestown, where they finished third and fourth respectively.

Slight preference is for Good Thyne Tara, who has had a lighter campaign and may well have a little bit more scope to improve. Asthuria, also representing Willie Mullins, ran well to finish fifth to Let’s Dance at Cheltenham and she is another with obvious claims while the same can be said for the Pat Fahy-trained Awayinthewest, who finished under a length behind Asthuria in the same race, despite meeting significant interference. She gets weight from all of her rivals bar one and could run a big race.

SELECTION: GOOD THYNE TARA NEXT BEST: BARRA LONGSHOT: AWAYINTHEWEST

7:45 KILDARE POST (C&G) FLAT RACE

A fair bumper to finish off the card and a couple of these would not have been out of place in the Champion Bumper yesterday. That comment most applies most to Next Destination, who finished a very good fourth to Fayonagh in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper and that form sets the standard.

Midnight Stroll did very well to finish third in a valuable sales bumper on his first start at Newbury while Sir Carno is of obvious interest making his debut for Gordon Elliott in the Gigginstown colours. However a chance is taken on Catwalk King, who showed promise on his first start around this track before showing the benefit of that run by bolting up at Cork. Jamie Codd has been booked to ride the son of Kutub by trainer Liz Doyle and he could surprise a few.

SELECTION: CATWALK KING NEXT BEST: NEXT DESTINATION LONGSHOT: RATHCANNON

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