The feature race of the week, the Punchestown Gold Cup, is the traditional Wednesday highlight and this year’s race looks a cracker, and for betting purposes too, especially as there has to be doubts surrounding the favourite. I have selections from three races on the excellent card. Headline selection Party Central got us off to a winning start to the meeting on Tuesday (advised 11/4).
Punchestown 5.20: Daily Present
This Grade 1 looks a fascinating contest, although The Nice Guy should only have to repeat his performance at Cheltenham to win here. However that will be easier said than done just six weeks later and I prefer the chances of a horse that has been brought along steadily, avoiding the big novice races to date.
DAILY PRESENT looks a very strong stayer who was too good for Bronn at Navan over 2m6f on heavy ground. That came off the back of an easy maiden success at Fairyhouse and he is clearly improving fast with every race. The winner of a 3m point as a 4yo, he has form on decent ground as well as those recent wins under softer conditions. It is difficult to assess his level of form, but he looks overpriced and ought to be in peak form for today, unlike some of those who contested at Cheltenham.
Punchestown 5.55: Galvin
My starting point for this race is to oppose Allaho who looks better at 2m4f and definitely more comfortable going left-handed. There is no doubt he is the best horse in the race, but I would not be wanting to take too short a price about him. Instead the consistent GALVIN can put behind him a fairly modest effort at Cheltenham.
Gordon Elliott’s horses were not on the best of form there, but Galvin showed his worth when taking the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and is a very strong stayer having won the 3m6f Chase at Cheltenham last season.
That stamina could be important in a race which could well be run at a frenetic pace. I expect Davy Russell to ease him into contention and this could just be a race where the complexion changes dramatically in the final two furlongs.
Punchestown 7.05: Foxy Jacks & Egality Mans
Willie Mullins saddles the top three in the weights here and their presence means everything else in the field is set to carry 10-8 and below. It is two of the lower weighted rivals that I fancy.
FOXY JACKS won this race last season and whilst he is far from reliable, he has all the variables in his favour today. Firstly he really has to go right-handed – all three of his wins have come going that way around. Secondly he prefers good going, just like when he won last year and conditions will be nearly identical today. Considering his preference for right-handed tracks, his last run in Ireland was an excellent effort, chasing home Birchdale at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. Only 2lbs higher today he must have an excellent chance if he is not affected by his fall at Aintree last time.
Of Mullins’ runners it is the lowly weighted EGALITY MANS that catches the eye. Cruising when falling at Fairyhouse last spring, he also fell on his reappearance here on New Years Eve. However he seems to have got his jumping sorted of late and easily won his Beginners at Wexford last month.
He was disappointing in a Grade 3 at Limerick last time, but I am not sure he really stays 3m and perhaps this intermediate track and handicap company will bring out the best in him.
0.5pts each-way – Daily Present – 5.20 Punchestown – 25/1 general
1pt each-way – Galvin – 5.55 Punchestown – 11/2 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt each-way – Foxy Jacks – 7.05 Punchestown – 14/1 Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes (1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt each-way – Egality Mans – 7.05 Punchestown – 6/1 general (1/5 odds 1st 4)