Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington have shared the last six runnings of the 2m 4f Hurdle for horses who have not won more than one hurdle race. Both have strong claims this afternoon but Nicky Henderson saddles FILS D’OUDAIRIES who finished runner up to Langer Dan at Aintree earlier in the month and has now run two excellent races over timber since making the switch to Lambourn from Joseph O’Brien.
The selection never really took to fences for his previous yard, but that Aintree run is the best recent form over hurdles. Paul Townend rides Ganapathi for Mullins and he would have finished second in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago had he not tipped up at the last. He looks likely to head the market.
Recommendation: Fils D’oudairies 4.45 Punchestown at 5/2 with Betfred
The feature race of the whole meeting is the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup and the brilliant Allaho steps back up to 3m for the first time since December 2020. The dual Ryanair Chase winner has won over the trip in the past and only went down by a couple of lengths to Champ in the RSA a couple of years ago, but he has only won once in four starts at the track and is a better horse going left-handed.
A Plus Tard misses the race as connections are well aware that their brilliant Gold Cup winner must go left-handed which leaves the door open for stablemate MINELLA INDO who can win his first race since landing last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. He gets the each way vote with Hills offering four places.
I was amazed that A Plus Tard picked up Minella Indo so easily going to the last at Cheltenham last month and I am convinced he is better than that. He beat Allaho on his sole previous run at this meeting and a bigger threat might come from Galvin who will appreciate the end-to-end gallop likely to be set by Allaho.
I was disappointed with Galvin at Cheltenham when he never got competitive. The Gordon Elliott stable had a frustrating Festival and I’m not convinced Davy Russell gave Galvin the best of rides last month. I would expect him to race more prominently and see more daylight than was the case last time.
Clan Des Obeaux landed the Betway Bowl at Aintree earlier in the month in first time blinkers, but this is a much stronger race, and he will do well to follow up his win in the corresponding race 12 months ago.
At a much bigger price I expect to see a big run from Kemboy who will appreciate the return to a right-hand track. While Allaho is likely to jump to his left Kemboy will jump right – I wouldn’t want to be the meat in that sandwich going over the first.
Despite the absence of the Gold Cup winner this is a magnificent renewal of this valuable and prestigious Grade 1 contest.
Recommendation: Minella Indo 5.55 at Punchestown EW 9/2 at William Hill 4 places.
Facile Vega cannot be opposed in the Champion Bumper at 6.25pm although this will be the fastest ground he has encountered. He makes no appeal as a betting medium however and I am more interested in the 2m 4f handicap chase.
Ciel De Neige heads the market and will appreciate the step back up in distance having been headed close home over 2m 2f at Thurles last time.
FOXY JACKS won the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 10lbs higher mark, but trainer Mouse Morris claims 7lbs from talented conditional PJ O’Hanlon. The each way selection blundered three out when still going well in the Ultima at Cheltenham last month and never took to the unique Aintree fences earlier in the month.
This return to a conventional right-handed track will suit and he looks sure to run well if he can put behind what was a heavy fall last time.
Recommendation: Foxy Jacks 7.05 Punchestown at 12/1 with William Hill 4 places
At Ascot Princess Zoe has her first start since running poorly in Riyadh earlier in the year. She finished runner up to Subjectivist in the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting here in June and she will be back in her quest to go one better in the summer.
WORDSWORTH finished runner up in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot before finishing runner up in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Bastille Day. His form tailed off in two subsequent starts and he only scrambled home in a minor conditions event on his reappearance.
He is drawn on the outside in stall seven, but he should have a decent pace to chase with Nayef Road likely to make it a decent test. This is the selection’s first try at two miles, but he was staying on strongly in the Queen’s Vase back in June and his brother – Kew Gardens – beat non other than Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup over today’s C&D back in 2019.
Recommendation: Wordsworth 3.35 Ascot at 7/2 with Coral
In the trial for the Commonwealth Cup Go Bears Go was the best of these at two winning the Gp 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh and ending a terrific juvenile season by finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint over the minimum trip at Del Mar.
He could be still ahead of his rivals this afternoon, but I was very impressed with the win of EHRAZ over C&D back in July and I feel we can put a line through his Acomb run at York the following month when he was beaten too far before stamina became an issue.
The selection has plenty to find on official figures, but I think he will improve a bunch this term. Whether he will improve past the more precocious Go Bears Go at this time of the season is debatable, but I do feel he is one to have on our side in the months to come.
Recommendation: Ehraz 4.10 Ascot at 3/1 with BetVictor
I would expect to see William Buick take VALIANT PRINCE to the front in the four-runner trial for the Queen Anne Stakes and dictate his own fractions. The selection had everything go his way when he lowered the track-record over a mile at Meydan when last seen in February, having made all over the same C&D on his penultimate start.
The selection can be keen but settled well in his first-time hood last time and he faces three hold up performers over the straight mile. Sir Busker has an excellent track record, but he needs a true run race to be seen at his most effective. It will be interesting to see if Jim Crowley adapts different tactics today.
Recommendation: Valiant Prince 4.40 Ascot at Evens with William Hill
* Betting odds correct at the time of writing. Subject to changes.