The first day of the Punchestown Festival has resulted in several small fields. However, it is impossible to fault the quality of the action taking place and we will provide Horse Racing tips for three of the contests on the eight-race card where the ground is currently described as Good to Yielding.
The feature race on Nottingham’s afternoon card is the Listed Nottinghamshire Oaks at 4.05pm and we will also supply a Horse Racing tip for this 1m 2f contest.
“Tip of the Day” – Ciel De Neige – 7.05pm Punchestown
Willie Mullins’ classy novice chaser may have been let in lightly on his first venture into handicap company off a mark of 149 and is fancied to get back to winning-ways after losing his unbeaten record over fences when beaten by the narrowest of margins at Thurles last month.
Wordsworth – 3.35pm Ascot
With Trueshan an absentee due to the good to firm ground and the prospect of little rain forecast, the seven runners remaining for this Group 3 contest make for an open renewal with only 11lb covering all of the runners.
At 116, the top rated Brian Ellison-trained Tashkhan achieved that mark with an end-of-season second to Trueshan on Champions Day. Whether the four-year-old is capable of repeating that effort on much faster ground is open to question and the winner is likely to come from elsewhere.
The ex French-trained Enemy was hugely impressive when running away with a competitive handicap at Musselburgh recently and is respected. But Ian Williams’ charge will find this opposition much tougher, especially the Irish pair of Wordsworth and Princess Zoe.
A repeat of her second to Subjectivist in the Gold Cup would make the Anthony Mullins-trained mare the one to beat. But if Wordsworth from the powerful Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien is going to make up into a top class stayer, the son of Galileo will need to be winning a race of this nature with fitness guaranteed.
The mount of Ryan Moore, third in the Irish Derby being just one of several decent performances last season, has always looked the type to do even better over two miles plus. And following a narrow but decisive opening victory at Gowran Park earlier in the month, is fancied to come out on top prior to a crack at the Gold Cup in June.
Hierarchy (Next Best) – 4.10pm Ascot
Mill Reef Stakes winner Wings Of War heads the field of five runners for this Commonwealth Cup trial. But having to concede 4lb to his rivals is going to make life difficult for the son of Dark Angel who has absolutely nothing in hand on the Hugo Palmer-trained Hierarchy.
Cieran Fallon’s mount finished behind Clive Cox’s colt twice last season, beaten half a length at Kempton and a head in that Newbury Group 2 contest named in honour of one of the greatest horses of the late 20th century. On today’s terms, it will be disappointing for connections if Hierarchy can not turn the tables on Wings Of War.
Hierarchy’s final run of 2021 came at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar when sixth, beaten a little over a length, in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Three quarters of a length in front of Hierarchy came fellow rival Go Bears Go, the pair beaten by Wesley Ward’s Twilight Gleaming.
In a race where a decent start is essential, Hugo Palmer’s charge totally missed the break. Back on home ground, the Mehmas colt should take plenty of beating if in the same kind of form.
Al Boum Photo (Longshot) – 5.55pm Punchestown
A tremendous renewal of this Grade 1 chase won 12 months ago by the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux, a rare British success at the festival in recent years. The 10-year-old follows a similar path to that of last year and another bold bid is expected, although the market is likely to be headed by Allaho, unbeaten in all three starts this season, culminating in a dominant display to claim a second Ryanair Chase victory at Prestbury Park last month.
The eight-year-old has been beaten the last four times he has raced over this trip however and at around the 15/8 mark is worth taking on. Minella Indo and Galvin are both capable of going close at their best, but at the prices the two who make most appeal are Fakir D’oudairies and Al Boom Photo, with slight preference for the latter.
The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was desperately unlucky not to win a Grade 1 here in 2018 when running out and has performed consistently well at the highest level since then, the highlight being two Cheltenham Gold Cup victories.
While only sixth at Prestbury Park behind A Plus Tard back in March, the 10-year-old’s cause was not helped by some less than fluent jumping at times. This will be only his third start of the campaign and on a course where he is always to be respected, looks fair value at a double-figure price.
Ciel De Neige (NAP) – 7.05pm Punchestown
Having his first run in a handicap, the Willie Mullins-trained Ciel De Neige is fancied to get back to winning-ways after losing his unbeaten record over fences when narrowly denied at Thurles last month, the gelding’s fourth start in a chase.
The son of Authorized was a smart hurdler, including when finishing second to Pic D’Orhy in the 2020 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and has the scope to make up into an even better chaser. A comfortable winner of his first three starts over the bigger obstacles, the seven-year-old may have been caught napping when pipped on the post by French Dynamite last time and could have been let in lightly here with an opening mark of 149.
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