The Paddy Power Champion Hurdle is the highlight on day four of the Punchestown Festival on Friday, featuring the unbeaten Honeysuckle. We will provide a Horse Racing tip, preview and prediction for the main contest at 5.25pm.
We will also supply Horse Racing tips for two other races on the card, a 2m 5f handicap chase at 4.15pm and at 4.50pm a mares’ handicap chase run over the same distance.
Our Tip for the 4.15pm at Punchestown:
The Willie Mullins-trained Antey, on his first start in a handicap, can open his account over the bigger obstacles off what looks an attractive mark of 136 and the prospect of encountering decent ground for the first time since going over fences.
The mount of Danny Mullins won two of his five starts over hurdles and looked an exciting prospect when going chasing last season. Not disgraced on his first two outings behind Faugheen and Melon, the Lord Of England gelding fell late on in his last two races of the season when holding every chance.
Apart from unseating his rider when leading at Fairyhouse in January, Antey has finally got the hang of the game, finishing runner-up on his most recent starts at Gowran Park. The eight-year-old must surely get his head in front before too long and granted a clear round must go close.
Top weight Asterion Forlonge is a classy chaser on his day and it would be no surprise to see Brian Cooper’s mount put up a bold show. While British raider Dostal Phil can prove best of JP McManus’s four contenders.
Our Tip for the 4.50pm at Punchestown:
The in-form combination of trainer Henry De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore can take this mares’ handicap chase with Abbey Magic. The 10-year-old has won four of her seven starts over fences as well as performing respectably in the other three.
The daughter of Beneficial landed a hat-trick of victories on her only three starts in 2018. Following a break of almost two years the mare lost out by a head in a handicap chase at Kilbeggan last September before going one better at Cork six weeks later.
Not disgraced behind subsequent Grade 1 winner First Flow at Ascot last November, Abbey Magic finished fourth of five at Fairyhouse earlier this month. Considering she was beaten just over five lengths by Cheltenham Festival runner-up Elimay, that was still a fine effort. Off a mark of 139 and on ground that should suit Racheal Blackmore’s mount has obvious claims.
Joseph O’Brien’s Scarlet And Dove, out of her depth in a Fairyhouse Grade 1 last time, can prove the main danger.
Our Tip for the 5.25pm at Punchestown:
Following hugely impressive victories in Champion Hurdles at Leopardstown and Cheltenham, on the face of it this looks another fairly straightforward task for the unbeaten Honeysuckle in an effort to make it 12 from 12 over hurdles.
Sharjah, Epatante, Aspire Tower, Goshen and Abacadabras all renew rivalry with Rachael Blackmore’s mount despite failing to make any impression on the daughter of Sulamani at Prestbury Park.
The one slight doubt regarding the great mare is her ability to prove as effective going right handed. Although the seven-year-old has won many times going that way, most of those have been against much inferior opposition.
The closest Honeysuckle has come to defeat this season was when just holding on from Ronald Pump in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse on her seasonal reappearance last November. While possibly in need of that run, a similar performance would make the odds-on favourite vulnerable in an excellent renewal of the race.
With that in mind, from a value perspective, if Honeysuckle is going to taste defeat for the first time it is likely to come at the hands of 2020 Champion Hurdle winner Epatante. Despite not having shown her very best form this season, those two Champion Hurdle efforts, together with the 7lb mares allowance, makes her the biggest threat should Honeysuckle fail to run up to her imperious best.
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