I am the first to admit out of all the three festivals Punchestown is the toughest and most competitive meeting of the three…..
Managed to get off to a flyer, which is always good to get one step ahead of the bookies form the outset, Nina Carberry never looked troubled when guiding home Wish Ye Didn’t for a facile success by just over nine lengths when landing the Perpetual Cup, she is a class apart in Ireland and whatever she rides you could probably turn out a good profit over the year just backing her blind, so a good start indeed.
The first shock came when Yorkhill was comfortably beaten in the Champion Novices Hurdle, he never looked right, jumping terribly out to the left throughout you could of lay off after just the first three hurdles, the race was eventually turned on it’s head which saw Jessica Harrington gain more Punchestown festival success when Don’t Push It came out a half a length winner beating Gigginstown’s Petit Mouchoir of Willie Mullins. I personally had small wager trebles with Wish Ye Didn’t and Vautour on Yorkhill, but you can’t expect to win every race.
It did not get any better going into the Kilashee Handicap, I was on Gordon Elliott’s Automated who looked to be going well three out, but like so many of these handicaps in Ireland, you just cannot see what is well in or not, especially in these races, the winner Tempo Mac had a fairly good resume, so if you found it well done. By this time I thought it was looking like a loss on the first day, with £60 laid out in singles and Lucky 15’s, it was good old Gods Own who pulled the day into profit.
What a ride by Paddy Brennan, who is I think having his best season of his career. He coached Gods Own into the race and jumping the last, even though Simonsig and Vautour were still on the premises, it never looked in doubt even thought Vautour tried to lower Brennan’s glory in the final strides. To take out of the Champion Chase was a massive run by Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig.
Two seasons off with injury, he is just another amazing come back story that Seven Barrows and Nicky Henderson has achieved, My Tent or Yours, Sprinter Sacre, these are what dreams are made of, when you can bring back horses from impossible injury and make them produce like that then for me Henderson will go down as one of the great trainers. I lost all my profit very quickly when lumping on Willie Mullins Jenkins, which should of won, and at evens taken I suppose I was looking for a quick steal, but I would not take anything away from the eventual winner, who just wanted it more.
I am still kicking myself for not getting stuck into Zabana, probably the best bet on day one, I backed him at Cheltenham when the starter made an absolute hash of the start which made Zabana jink and unseat Davy Russell, so this was a well deserved success for the team and nice compensation. Licking my wounds from not putting myself nicely back in the black, I had to take another defeat on the chin when Someday of Harrington’s could not go pass Willie Mullins Cilaos Emery going down by half a length. So Day one turned out to be a loss of around £40 in the end.
Always a motto, you have to speculate to accumulate, so I decided on day two to really get stuck in to the meeting, I upped the ante and double my stakes across the board, laying out £140 again on singles and multiples. My first bet actually was away from the festival when having a cockle on Wesley Ward’s Create A Dream, who landed his maiden at 5/1, a great start and already 45% of my outlay was back in the pocket.
My first bet was on Jessica Harrington’s Candlestick, took some of the 14/1 around, he looked to be travelling well in the race, but failed to get home, but each way brought my stake back with a very small profit on top. I stayed with Jessica again and a well deserved win I thought and a great ride by Robbie Power to get Woodland Opera home in front when seeming enough looked like the first beaten turning in. Now I was up and running, 75% of my outlay back and one more win I was breaking even.
Then it crashed, was the case of seconds going to come back to haunt me, Cony Island I thought looked all over the winner under Barry Geraghty, but I must say that was some ride by Ruby Walsh on Bellshill, even though I think he is an arrogant prick, his skill and panache in the saddle is quality to watch.
The big race of the day, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, My main bet was honestly £10 win on Road to Riches at 9/1, but after reading Barry Geraghty’s blog and interview on tv, he convinced me to have a small £2 ew at 20s on Carlingford Lough. What a confident ride, and even though I was shouting on Road to Riches, my jaw was left open wide when the outsider came through to win convincingly by just over four lengths.
Now I was just in profit for the day, it was sit back time, three races to go what ever happened from here was a bonus. As always the back end races seal me, I had no chance in the Guinness Handicap Chase, and more woe’s when second in another bumper with my bet on Forge Meadow of Jessica Harrington’s. So over all I actually finished the day £56 in front which is not bad considering three of the races my returns was zilch.
This is the day I feared the most, not as much of investment yesterday, did not want to give back my second days profit, so just £86 layout which included three bets away from the festival at Redcar, which included the maiden blog selection. The day got off to a flyer once more when the blog horse King of Naples won at 5/2, £10 win and a really good start. With a £5 win double on Jamie Spencer’s only two rides, both winning at 15/8 and 3/1 the day was done, over in profit and a full Punchestown card to go.
The first race, I backed Lake Champlain who as most of Jessica Harrington’s horses in handicaps at this festival just don’t have the pace to get home when it matters, he faded very tamely from two out and finished seventeenth in the end. Again I was on Jessica Harrington’s Rock The World, who looked to go away when turning in, but again never got home when it mattered, beaten by Gordon Elliott’s Bright New Dawn and was given a really confident ride by Brian Cooper.
The La Touche Cup, after backing Quantitataveeasing at Cheltenham when fourth, I was put off after his past two runs under Mark Walsh were poor, but yesterday he thrived and won with something in hand, my bet was on Bless The Wings who probably has had a tough season, and the Irish National probably left its scars.
It did not get any better in the Champion Stayers, my money was down on If In Doubt, who never got the good clip he would of liked, but hats off and a big pat on the back when it is due, Warren Greatrex in his interview said he was very bullish, he had been trained all season with this race in mind.
He never looked like losing under Gavin Sheehan and powered away in good fashion, interesting that Greatrex stated afterwards that his best chance of a win was yet to come in Paint the Clouds. The seconds had returned, when I backed each way on Jury Duty, on at a nice 10/1, the support was heavy and was being backed liked defeat was totally out of the question, turning for home and five lengths clear, it looked like I was finally going to get another winner, but once more that Nicky Henderson has managed to get another one back to his best in Cup Final, who rallied to deny a win by the shortest of heads, not even that probably a piece of snot separated them.
The next two races I had nothing going, and it was on to another bumper, yep you guessed it the third bumper in a row at this festival I have had to settle for second, I backed Blast of Koeman purely on the fact the trainer and jockey already had a nice winner and at 16/1 well worth an each way punt. Day three ended around £25 in profit, now looking forward to day four and where is my money going ?
The Hunters Chase I do like the looks of Grangeclare Rosa, nice riding weight for J J Codd and I would expect this big p2p chaser to win this very comfortably. On to the second race and a massive field in which I will be doubling up in Balnagon Boy and Mr Diablo. Slight concerns on the ground for Balnagon Boy as all of his best runs have come on heavy ground, the other was purely that Luke Dempsey had stayed loyal to the horse who he won well on at Fairyhouse on this ground.
A Lady’s mare race comes next, not a race I will be getting heavily involved in, Always thought Neil Mulholland had a potential star in Centasia, and this will be where my wager goes around 7/1. Good to Soft would of been more ideal, but willing to give the Presenting nine year old a nice shout here, Noel Fehily takes the ride this afternoon. The main event the Champion Hurdle, looking at the field I honestly thought Hurricane Fly could come out of retirement and beat this lot doing hand stands.
We see another potentially smart mare from Willie Mullins yard in Vroum Vroum Mag, since joining the County Carlow ranks, she is 9-9 and is looking to go into double figures of wins unbeaten, but she has a lot on her plate taking on some proven lads, My Tent Or Yours of Nicky Henderson is just one of two amazing stories to bring a horse back to this level of fitness. I want to dispute to the level that what has Vroum really beaten?.
The best piece of form is probably the Ascot run when she got the better of Jennies Jewel to a comfortable three and a half lengths. that form has been franked I think after JJ’s big run behind One Track Mind yesterday. I want to find something in this to up set the big three in the market, Sempre Medici is far better than when pulling up in the Champion Hurdle.
Fourth in the Champion Novices at last years festival when behind Nicholas Canyon, Alpha De Obeaux and Outlander. I do not think he has much to find with Identity Thief even though he beat him by five lengths at Fairyhouse last year, but at 14/1 definitely interesting entry here under Paul Townend. Champion Novice Hurdle I do like the Nicky Henderson trained O O Seven, this does not looks the greatest of renewals, hopefully he gets a bit more rain over night to ease his task, but with Henderson firing I cannot rule him out off the race with Danny Mullins booked.
The 6.40 and I was really taken by the way Tony Martin’s Fire In His Eyes won at Wexford when winning the bumper by eighteen lengths. There looks a lot more to come from him and I hope he adapts to hurdles, Davy Russell in the plate has to be a big plus. Another flat race in the next, will I be booked for another runner up spot, If so it is going to be with Paul Nolan’s Crazyheart, a good second in a maiden hurdle at Wexford, the winner has gone on again to win twice, looked value at 14/1 with a O’Neil on board.
The finale and I will side with Warren Greatrex’s Paint The Clouds, lets hope Sam does not do what he did at Cheltenham when literally coming from the clouds to be defeated by On The Fringe by just over a length, have him a lot handier and follow Nina through, I would not rule out a big run from Salsify if turning up.
Well good luck – I will up date this after Day four has finished