11.40 Pigsback.com Risk Of Thunder Chase 3m
Three By Two has age on her side as she renews rivalry with a couple of ageing banks veterans.
The seven-year-old mare won the Ladies Cup at this year’s festival, before finishing a respectable third in another cross-country race just four days later. Given that those were her first two sightings of the famous Punchestown fences, the Denis Murphy-trained runner should be open to further improvement this term.
La Touche winner Vital Island finished runner-up in the Ladies Cup before winning just two days after. He had won the Ladies Cup the previous year and has an excellent record over the banks.
Although now in the latter stages of his career, the 11-year-old could well spring to life at this unique discipline.
SELECTION: THREE BY TWO
Next Best: Vital Island
12.10 I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle 2m 5f 210y
Tullyhill, a leading bumper performer last season, can make a winning debut over hurdles. A former point-to-point winner, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding won on his racecourse debut at Gowran Park last March but found Cheltenham coming too soon. He reappeared when an honourable second in the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown Festival.
Shannon Royale tried to make all when only caught late on over a furlong longer at Down Royal earlier this month. Having jumped and travelled easily in front, the Henry de Bromhead trained five-year-old would be a dangerous horse to let loose on the lead.
Next Best: Shannon Royale
12.45 Fox Valet Retirement Handicap Hurdle 3m 100y
Western Zara looks nicely handicapped making her first start over flights since January 2022. On that occasion, Paul Nolan’s mare easily landed a Clonmel handicap hurdle off a mark of 102. Straight after, she was switched to fences, winning on her debut before going on to finish mid-division at Leopardstown and seventh in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Now reverting to hurdles off a 16lb lower rating, she should take beating.
Balkito also appears one who could exploit a lower hurdles mark as he is 19lb higher as a chaser. The one caveat is that Barry Connell’s gelding has yet to win over hurdles and may well just be better over fences.
SELECTION: WESTERN ZARA
Next Best: Balkito
1.20 Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle (Listed Race) 2m 2f 40y
Shecouldbeanything is proven at this level having landed a similar contest at Killarney in May.
The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old returned to win a decent handicap hurdle at the Co Kerry track in August, before finishing a highly creditable third in Listowel the following month. A very smart performer at her best, the daughter of Malinas is the one to beat.
Former Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Anna Bunina was well behind the Elliott mare at Killarney in May but that almost certainly wasn’t her true form. However, John McConnell’s seven-year-old does need to return to her best having also failed to get involved at Gowran Park when last seen.
Next Best: Anna Bunina
1.55 BetVictor Craddockstown
Novice Chase (Grade 2) 2m 43y
A bumper winner on his racecourse debut at this track in February 2022, Imagine can record his most significant success to date. Gordon Elliott’s gelding developed into a smart hurdler last season but suggested he could do even better over fences when making all for an easy success at Fairyhouse earlier this month.
Holding a whole host of Grade 1 entries in the coming months, connections clearly hold the five-year-old in high regard.
Lucid Dreams has developed into a thoroughly dependable chaser, winning two of his four starts to date. The John Ryan-trained eight-year-old has enough experience to put it up to the Elliott runner but may just not have the same scope for improvement.
Next Best: Lucid Dreams
3.35 Irish Daily Mirror (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race 2m 190y
Willie Mullins had a strong entry for this contest at the five-day stage, so it is almost certainly a pointer that he relies solely on debutant Soir De Garde.
The unraced five-year-old couldn’t have a better pedigree, being a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winning hurdler State Man. Connections will be hoping he can win at the first attempt before going on to bigger and better. Prends Garde A Toi found only one too good on his sole point-to-point start when runner-up at Ballyknock in April. Gigginstown House Stud subsequently bought the gelding who is now with Gordon Elliott.
SELECTION: SOIR DE GARDE
Next Best: Prends Garde A Toi