Horse racing tips and advice for the best bets on Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival.
Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival sees another two Grade 1 races up for grabs with the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle and the Ryanair Novice Chase taking centre stage.
The first of the two races sees the return of Willie Mullins' incredible mare – Quevega (1/1 William Hill). This horse soundly wrote her name into the history books by winning the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for the sixth consecutive season back in March, when she battled past stablemate Glens Melody. She will be bidding for a fifth straight win against the boys at this meeting, and with the rumours that she has been put in foal, this may be the last time we see her on a racecourse. Despite her class, she was very nearly beaten at Cheltenham and considering her short priced odds, she looks vulnerable.
Three British runners make the journey over to contest the race – At Fishers Cross (4/1 bet365) for Rebecca Curtis, the Phillip Hobbs trained Fingal Bay (7/1 Ladbrokes), and last year’s runner-up Reve De Sivola (16/1 Coral). The latter hasn’t been at his best all season, and would much prefer softer ground – although Barry Geraghty is a great jockey booking. Fingal Bay reminded us all of his blatant ability after winning two on the bounce since coming back from injury and, although this is a step up in class for him, he’s a progressive type with bundles of potential, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. Finally, At Fishers Cross has had a disappointing season after promising so much as a novice hurdler. Last time out at Aintree he jumped right at every fence, and although Punchestown is a right-handed course, he will waste precious time and energy. The seven-year-old has failed to win in five starts this term and I can’t see him breaking his duck here.
The one horse in the line-up that does take my fancy is the Tony Martin trained BOG WARRIOR (12/1 SkyBet). Connections have opted to run him here instead of Wednesday’s Gold Cup, and that looks to be a shrewd decision. He has been impressive in his hurdling campaigns over the last couple of seasons, and things haven’t quite gone to plan so far over the larger obstacles. He’s had a quiet season, missing both Cheltenham and Aintree, so is fresh having been saved for this Festival. My one slight doubt is the ground, especially after having a leg injury, but there is a lot to like about the horse, and I’m keen to take a chance on him.
The second Grade 1 of the day is the Ryanair Novice Chase, where eight runners head to post. BALDER SUCCES (5/2 Betfred) leads the British assault with the six-year-old bidding to continue his excellent 2014 campaign which culminated in victory in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree three weeks ago. I’m a huge fan of this horse, and his jumping, which alone wins him his races. Trainer Alan King has placed this horse well throughout the season, taking the decision to give Cheltenham a miss and concentrate on Aintree and Punchestown instead. Connections have opted for this race, rather than the Boylesports.com Champion Chase as the slightly smaller field should suit the horse. He’s definitely improving after every race and looks the one to beat here.
The other British raider among the eight-runner field is the Tom George-trained God's Own (25/1 SkyBet), who has not raced since finishing second to Balder Succes in the Pendil Novices' Chase at Kempton back in February. Champion trainer Willie Mullins saddles two runners in Champagne Fever (6/4 William Hill), who was just touched off in the Arkle at Cheltenham, and Felix Yonger (8/1 bet365). The former remains at 2m after finishing runner-up in the Arkle, but looks to be better suited by further. The ground should pose no problems, but, with his disappointing run over the Christmas period fresh in the memory, he’s one to oppose. Felix Younger on the other hand drops back in trip from 2m4f and could be the surprise package in the race. Last time out he finished fourth behind Taquin De Seuil in the JLT Novice Chase at Cheltenham. That looked to be too much of a stamina test and this return to a trip that places an emphasis on speed should see him return to his best.
5.30pm – BOG WARRIOR (WIN) (12/1 SkyBet)
6.40pm – BALDER SUCCES (WIN) (NAP) (5/2 Betfred)
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