Island is the fairest bet of all
Man On The Spot previews Wednesday's action at Punchestown, the second day of the Festival.
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15.40 Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle
Never Enough Time has steadily made progress and landed a Cork maiden in good style, though this is a very tough ask. Ferdy Murphy is a rare visitor these days so the presence of Chavoy, who has thrived since arriving at West Witton from France, suggests he means business. Brian Who was gaining only his second victory when scoring at Fairyhouse but he's been running well all winter and an 8lb rise shouldn't prevent another big effort. Rawnaq has definitely improved recently and followed a cracking run over this track and trip with a close second on the Flat at Leopardstown. Art Lord was a surprise but convincing winner of a Navan maiden but a chance is taken with the four-year-old HAZARIBAN. He's been progressing with every run and there was much to like about his comfortable victory in an all-aged handicap at Navan earlier this month.
16.20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle
Dalasiri, just touched off by Dogora at Gowran in January, has been disappointing in two subsequent starts though this is a drop in grade. Bayan followed a battling victory at Cork with another on the Flat at Dundalk last week and is flying at present but Willie Mullins has a strong hand with CALL ME BUBBLES and Viconte Du Noyer. The latter hasn't run for a year and will be having his first start for the stable since arriving from France so the guaranteed race fitness of the former, an impressive winner at Navan in March, may be enough to see him home. Gassin Golf pulled much too hard in the Triumph Hurdle but is better than that and this useful Flat performer can go well at a fair price here.
16.55 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle
Road To Riches had looked an outstanding prospect before a poor run in the Sefton at Aintree. He'll do better here provided the ground remains testing but once again Willie Mullins holds the key. INISH ISLAND has twice finished close up behind At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham and is a really smart prospect for chasing next season. At this stage he looks better than Ballycasey, another bright prospect but taking a big step up in grade. Jennies Jewel may come out best of the remainder with her allowances.
17.30 Bet Online With Thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup
A brilliant race in prospect with the Gold Cup second, third and sixth taking on the Betfred Bowl winner. Sir Des Champs and LONG RUN had a tremendous battle in the Cheltenham classic and though neither could hold Bobs Worth they couldn't have done much better. The former ran the race of his life and hasn't had quite as much experience in the big time as Nicky Henderson's charge, whose attempt to make all was probably thwarted by the extended 3m2f trip. He's just given the vote this time and expect a much better run from Captain Chris, only sixth at Cheltenham but only beaten narrowly by Long Run over this trip in the King George. First Lieutenant certainly deserved his Aintree success after near misses at the highest level on so many occasions. He hasn't been far behind Bobs Worth on a couple of occasions and is no forlorn hope to cause an upset. Neither last year's Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre nor the Down Royal Grade 1 winner Kauto Stone are out of this either, though both would need massive improvement on their latest form.
18.05 Betdaq The Peoples Exchange Champion I.N.H. Flat Race
Willie Mullins and Noel Meade have both won this three times in the past ten years. The former had six entered at the early stage and relies on a trio headed by the impressive Champion Bumper winner BRIAR HILL. That is by far the best form of any in this race and though stablemate Outlander remains unbeaten in bumpers he doesn't look quite up to the selection's class nor does Sizing Tennessee, who was beaten a long way at Cheltenham. Meade's only representative is Apache Stronghold, a Down Royal winner but put in his place by today's rival The Mighty Milan at Fairyhouse. David Pipe sends The Liquidator from the UK and the Cheltenham fourth can go well. He wouldn't be coming here unless connections were confident of getting closer to the winner.
18.40 Guinness Handicap Chase
NADIYA DE LA VEGA bounced back to form to land a Grade 3 mares' event at Fairyhouse and, as she's only 3lb higher than when successful at Cheltenham in October, is handed the vote in a tough contest. Call The Police ran poorly behind Sumkindasuprstar at Navan but that wasn't his form and he's best judged on his victory over Foildubh at Thurles in January. Mr Cracker finished a short-head behind in that race at Navan and looks well enough handicapped to make his presence felt. Rubi Light is a class act who has been running at the highest level for over two years. He should find this a bit less daunting despite a big weight and should get into the argument. Tranquil Sea is another more used to running at a higher level and is very well handicapped if returning to something like his best.
19.15 Attheraces.com Flat Race
Not the easiest of finale's but SIZING CHILE gets the nod to provide Willie Mullins with another winner. He's looked as though he needed the experience on both starts to date and the likely strong pace will suit him in this. Nicky Henderson sends Kempton runner-up Beat That from Lambourn and he won't be coming for the fresh air while Flags Pass made a very promising debut behind The Game Changer at Cork and is guaranteed to improve. Lots Of Memories has had enough chances but Real Steel showed potential at Fairyhouse and his trainer knows how to win these races.