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PUNCHESTOWN TIPS: Your free guide to Tuesday's card
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PUNCHESTOWN TIPS: Your free guide to Tuesday's card
on 24 April 2018
Ronan Groome takes you through the card for the opening day of the Punchestown Festival with previews and tips for all seven races

3:40 KILDARE HUNT CLUB FR SEAN BREEN MEMORIAL CHASE FOR THE LADIES PERPETUAL CUP 3M

Last year’s winner Enniskillen will be a popular choice among the Kildare crowd but it may be that Enda Bolger’s Blue Templar, who finished a 10 lengths away in third last year, is able to turn the tables now. The J.P. McManus-owned seven-year-old has more scope to improve now while Enniskillen, at the age of 13, could be going the other way.

Others to note are Vital Island, who comes into this off the back of wins at Borris House and Lingstown, and Mia’s Milan, who has experience of the course before.

Selection: Blue Templar

Alternative: Vital Island

4:20 HERALD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE (GRADE 1)

The market has this race all about Getabird however although the Susannah Ricci-owned gelding redeemed himself somewhat with a good performance at Fairyhouse, he still has a bit to prove at the highest level. He reopposes with Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue, who both fared much better than him in the Supreme. The latter-mentioned, Henry de Bromhead’s horse, has progressed all season and was only a length off Mengli Khan at Cheltenham. He ran an excellent race behind Fayonagh in the Champion Bumper at this meeting last year and he could be make a breakthrough at Grade 1 level.

Elsewhere Vision Des Flos is interesting at around the 16/1 mark. He is another who ran well at Punchestown last season, winning the Goffs Land Rover Bumper on this very card. His hurdles career started slowly but he has come alive since undergoing wind surgery and Colin Tizzard, who had a great time of things here last year, has his horses in great shape again.

Selection: Paloma Blue

Alternative: Vision Des Flos

He is returning off a break but he has won fresh before and significantly Barry Geraghty had loads of choices in this race but has elected to ride him. Everything looks in place for a huge run.

4:55 KILLASHEE HANDICAP HURDLE (GRADE B)

Ballyoisin is a really interesting contender for the first handicap race of the Festival. He progressed to just short of the top level as a chaser last summer with handicap wins at Killarney and Cork off marks of 144 and 150 respectively, before going on to Down Royal to give the highly-rated Disko a scare in a Grade 2 event. He comes back over hurdles now and gets to race off a 25lbs lower mark so he is potentially thrown in. He is returning off a break but he has won fresh before and significantly Barry Geraghty had loads of choices in this race but has elected to ride him. Everything looks in place for a huge run.

There are lots of dangers, namely Down Royal maiden winner Ten Ten, last year’s winner Western Boy and last week’s RYBO Handicap Hurdle winner Low Sun. However at a bigger price, Light That could be worth a second look. He finished second to Western Boy here last year and returns off the exact same mark (126). He has been set tough tasks running over fences recently but has still acquitted himself well and significantly he gets a chance to run on half decent ground today. At 22/1 he looks to be a little underestimated.

Selection: BALLYOISIN

Alternative: Light That

5:30 BOYLESPORTS CHAMPION CHASE (GRADE 1)

It will be great if Douvan can come back and win but his chance may not be as big as current odds imply. The eight-year-old was travelling strongly in the Champion Chase when he came down at the fourth last, after which his stablemate Min, who reopposes today, went on to finish second to Altior, having travelled strongly and looked like the winner heading into the straight. The odds suggest that Douvan probably would have finished ahead of Min but that is a cloudy assumption and I’d be inclined to take Min as a more solid option. The seven-year-old failed to capitalise of Altior’s absence at Aintree when going down by a narrow margin in the Melling Chase, over two and a half miles, but coming back to the minimum trip should be a help. The intriguing presence of Un De Sceaux makes this race a brilliant contest. The drying ground is obviously a big concern but he is still a force back at this trip and it would be no surprise to see him put it up to his more fancied stablemates.

Selection: Min

Alternative: Douvan

6:05 GOFFS LAND ROVER BUMPER

It’s hard to get a read on this race with the majority of the 17-runner field making their racecourse debuts. Think Positive is of obvious interest, having moved to Willie Mullins’ stable after a debut fourth in Britain and he is the choice of Patrick Mullins. Commander Of Fleet is also interesting representing the all powerful connections of Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown, with Barry O’Neill set to ride.

That’s A Given has been sent over by Philip Hobbs. He showed a good turn of foot to win on his racecourse debut so is respected also while Seeyouinvinnys is another worth mentioning. Noel Meade, in very good form of late, has already won a sales bumper at Fairyhouse and Nina Carberry is set to take the ride.

Selection: Seeyouinvinnys

Alternative: That’s A Given

She ran away with a race that has produced two subsequent Grade 1 winners at Aintree, and separate winners at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level.

6:40 GROWISE CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE (GRADE 1)

Monalee put up an excellent performance to chase home Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and he looks the one to beat. That said, he faces a sizeable challenge from both Al Boum Photo and Shattered Love, who were first and second in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. Preference is for Gordon Elliott’s mare whose form in winning the JLT Chase may still be underrated. She ran away with a race that has produced two subsequent Grade 1 winners at Aintree, and separate winners at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level. She did get beat by Al Boum Photo at Fairyhouse but there was little in it, in a race that was only 17 days after Cheltenham over a track and distance which carried less of an emphasis on stamina. Shattered Love is already a Grade 1 winner over three miles so stepping back up in trip is fine for her and she may fight it out with Al Boum Photo again, for whom the step up in trip should also pose no problem.

Selection: Shattered Love

Alternative: Al Boum Photo

7:15 DOOLEY INSURANCES FLAT RACE

Malinas Jack could be difficult to stop in this closing bumper. He was last seen finishing an excellent second to triple bumper scorer and Champion Bumper fourth Acey Milan in a listed event at Cheltenham in January. He then fetched £160,000 at the sales and now makes his debut for Henry de Bromhead. If he runs as well as he did at Cheltenham, even without factoring improvement for having joined up with the Waterford handler, he should go very close.

Typically in an Irish bumper at a major festival there will be any amount of whispers and it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see support for Noel Meade’s In Your Shadow, who represents Gigginstown with Nina Carberry riding. He is related to a bumper winner and Meade has been in good form of late.

Selection: Malinas Jack

Alternative: In Your Shadow

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