Punchestown Festival tips: Saturday selections
We’ve posted Punchestown Festival tips for every race at this year’s five-day spectacular and are finishing off with Saturday’s best bets.
There are two Grade One contests on the closing card, the Mares Champion Hurdle and the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.
Henry De Bromhead’s valiant veteran has been a grand servant both over regulation fences and in cross-country events for the past couple of years, notably finishing third to Delta Work at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.
His first season over fences did not go to plan but after a confidence-boosting stint over hurdles, Paul Nolan’s charge has impressed with a smooth beginners’ chase success at Wexford and a neck second to Oscer Romero at the same track in handicap company.
Was quietly fancied to go well in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham following a Sandown double and Harry Fry’s seven-year-old ran a cracker when making Honeysuckle work hard for her memorable triumph.
This Grade One equivalent has been dominated in recent years by Willie Mullins, with the champion trainer landing seven of the last 10 editions, but Nicky Henderson’s Marie’s Rock struck for Britain 12 months ago.
Love Envoi is now a firm favourite to match that feat for Dorset handler Fry, who has a good record at Punchestown, with dual Champion Stayers Hurdle hero Unowhatimeanharry among several previous winners for his team.
“Punchestown has been a lucky festival for us and we’re looking forward to taking our chance,” said the trainer. “She ran a great race at Cheltenham. We’re obviously taking on horses she beat that day, but we’re not taking anything for granted.”
It’s all systems go for Punchestown, the plan is to go over there and take on the Irish horses”
~Noel Fehily 💙💛🤍❤️
— Dawn Leadon-Bolger (@Dawnesme) April 24, 2023
Henry De Bromhead’s lightly-raced seven-year-old is still learning the game and can tend to get too far back early, but stepping up in trip should help and the feeling is that he is nicely handicapped if everything clicks into place.
Was upset by Gala Marceau at the Dublin Racing Festival but there were excuses for that below-par effort and she has claimed convincing victories over her stablemate before and after.
Lossiemouth was having her fourth outing in as many months when galloping on strongly up the hill in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but showed no signs of feeling the strain that day and Mullins is hopeful she can hold her form.
“We haven’t missed much with Lossiemouth this season – Christmas, Dublin Racing Festival, Cheltenham,” said the Closutton handler.
“That’s a lot on a filly and she’s not the biggest filly in the world, but she has a huge constitution, so hopefully we ask for just one more day.
“There’s no reason to say that she won’t give it. She’s just so laid back, I don’t think racing or anything fazes her or takes too much out of her. She’s really top class.”
💪 Lossiemouth digs in for the win in the JCB Triumph Hurdle
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 17, 2023
This French import was initially thrown in at the deep after joining Mullins but benefitted from a drop in class when a close third of 21 in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.
Risk Belle built on that with another good run in a valuable Fairyhouse handicap, when finishing second before being handed first place in the stewards’ room due to interference on the run-in.
Giggingstown House Stud went to £220,000 to buy this five-year-old at the Sales in December after he finished second in a decent-looking Corbeagh House point-to-point and he has been given plenty of time to settle in with Gordon Elliott.
The festival concludes with the annual pro-am Flat race and Jessica Harrington’s gelding appeals on wins at Leopardstown and Ascot under a 10lb claimer last summer if stripping fitter for a recent blow-out at Limerick.