Donn McClean's preview and tips ahead of day three at the Punchestown Festival

Owner Rich Ricci
Owner Rich Ricci

Chacun Pour Soi could be the value call in the big novice chase at Punchestown later - check out Donn McClean's preview.

Yesterday was a bit surreal. You knew that when the time came for Ruby Walsh to announce his retirement, it would be massive. And it was. It transcended racing, it transcended sport. Main evening news and everything.

It’s sad in the sense that we are at the end of an era, that we will never see Ruby Walsh ride in a race again. That we will never again witness him in action, one of the greatest exponents of his craft that there has ever been.

But it’s a good news story, because the rider was able to go out on his own terms, when he wanted to go out. It’s a profession in which you get injured. We all know that. And you knew that, when the time came, it would be like this, that he would ride a winner and that he would say, that’s it. The fact that he made the announcement in the winner’s enclosure at Punchestown, after he had given Kemboy the superb ride that he gave him to win the Punchestown Gold Cup. You couldn’t have asked for better.

Robbie Power takes over on Chacun Pour Soi in the Ryanair Novice Chase today. This is an intriguing contest: the Arkle winner, the JLT winner, the Maghull Chase winner, the Ryanair Gold Cup winner.

Duc Des Genievres tops the ratings and the markets. The Arkle that he won may not have been the best Arkle ever run. We were missing Le Richebourg and Cilaos Emery and Dynamite Dollars from the line-up. Then Glen Forsa fell and Lalor under-performed and Ornua fell and effectively brought down Kalashnikov. But Willie Mullins’ horse won it with absolute authority. He could hardly have been more impressive than he was.

Defi Du Seuil is dropping down in trip from two and a half miles to two. He was very good in beating Lostintranslation in the Scilly Isles Chase under a really good ride from Barry Geraghty, and he stepped forward from that last time when he beat Lostintranslation again, with more in hand than he had at Sandown. The 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner has left last season behind him this term over fences.

The slight concern is that his forward march over fences has been over two and a half miles. If there was a Grade 1 two-and-half-mile novices’ chase at Punchestown, it is probable that he would be running in that. And Punchestown’s two miles is a sharp two miles. He may be vulnerable.

It may be that Chacun Pour Soi represents some value against the top two. Willie Mullins’ horse was seriously impressive in winning his beginners’ chase at Naas in March. Of course, this represents a massive step up in class for him, but everything about that Naas performance suggested that he could be top class. He tanked through his race, his jumping was really good for one so inexperienced, and he sauntered to victory.

And At Your Ease, who finished third, some 33 lengths behind the hard-held winner, went and won his beginners’ chase at Limerick three weeks ago.

It is a slight concern that that was the Policy Maker gelding’s first run in three years, and there is therefore a chance that he will bounce. However, he has had a nice break since then, he has been off for almost eight weeks since, and that should be sufficient recovery time. He is a pacy horse who should be well suited by Punchestown, and he could run a big race.

Curious Times could also run a big race in the opening handicap hurdle. Stuart Crawford’s horse has been strong in the market this morning, but it could still be worth backing him at around 5/1.

We haven’t seen him since he won his maiden hurdle at Down Royal in January, but that was a really big run. He battled on well to get the better of Black Tears, with the pair of them pulling well clear of their field.

Black Tears came out next time and won her maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse impressively, then went to Cheltenham and ran a big race to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

The third horse in the Down Royal race, 24 lengths behind runner-up Black Tears, was Dommage Pour Toi. Henry de Bromhead’s horse probably would have won his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown next time had he jumped the final flight better, and he went to Fairyhouse last time and battled on well to win a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle, beating yesterday’s impressive winner Zero Ten into second place. It’s rock solid form.

To put it into context, Black Tears is now rated 133 and Dommage Pour Toi is rated 139. Both may have progressed since Down Royal in January, but Curious Times gets to race off a handicap rating of 116 today, and that gives him lots of leeway.


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David Ord heads to Haydock for his bet of the day on Friday and picks out a likely improver for William Haggas.

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David Ord feels Skardu rates the value bet in a fascinating Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.