6.05 PUNCHESTOWN: Punchestown Gold Cup
FINISHING in the first four last time out has been a must for the Punchestown Gold Cup. So we can cross out last year’s winner Bellshill and Definitly Red from the hopefuls.
Only one horse rated below 160 has prevailed in the past six runnings so we’ll concentrate on the classier performers. Snow Falcon, Sub Lieutenant and The Storyteller come up short on that score.
That quickly reduces the field down to three — Al Boum Photo, Kemboy and Monalee.
The key trial for this race is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which rules out Monalee who ran in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival rather than the Blue Riband.
So it becomes a shoot-out between the big two in the betting and it’s not easy to split the Willie Mullins duo.
There is one trend that points the way to KEMBOY over the Gold Cup winner.
He’s had four runs this season which has been a real positive heading into this race.
By contrast, only one horse in the past 20 years has won this on just their third outing of the campaign which is what Al Boum Photo is attempting today.
5.30 PUNCHESTOWN: Grade 1 Novice Hurdle
SIX-YEAR-OLDS have pretty much had this race to themselves with eight wins on the spin.
So we’ll cross out Allaho, Commander Of Fleet, Cap York, Carefully Selected and Go Another One.
The quality of winners has improved in recent years with all of the past five scorers rated north of 140.
That gives plenty of work to Salsaretta, School Boy Hours, Gallant John Joe, First Approach and Castlebawn West.
LATEST IN RACING
We’re into shortist territory now with just Defi Bleu, Minella Indo and Walk Away still standing.
Most winners of this last ran at either Cheltenham or Fairyhouse, so Walk Away is overlooked as his most recent outing came when fourth at Aintree 26 days ago.
Horses at big prices have won this in recent seasons including Champagne Classic at 14-1 in 2017.
That’s the sort of price Defi Bleu is likely to start at and he looks a decent each-way shout after third in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last time out.
But MINELLA INDO won the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett and that form looks a few strides ahead of his nearest rivals.