Willie Mullins’ champions procession looks set to continue today in Ireland, with Faugheen priced up at 1/6 to follow fellow Cheltenham Festival-winning stablemates Douvan and Killultagh Vic into the winners enclosure in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle at 17.30.
Mullins took five of the 14 races over the first couple of days of the Punchestown Festival, and has a couple more hotpots today in Faugheen and 4/6 shot Nicholls Canyon in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Champion Hurdle at 18.05.
However, Ricci family-owned animal Max Dynamite should be taken on at 2/1 in the following race (18.40), as the mount of Ruby Walsh has left a trail of miserable punters in his wake since winning on debut for Mullins in November.
Max Dynamite has failed in his past four races, twice with Walsh on board, including when finishing fourth of five runners after going off 11/10 favourite at Naas (10 minutes up the road from Punchestown) in February.
His last run at Fairyhouse, which came after a decent place in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, saw the five-year-old fall four obstacles from home having struggled for fluency throughout.
Max Dynamite can’t be put up with any confidence at present, especially in what looks a highly competitive race.
English raiders Nicky Henderson and Warren Greatrex are over the water with Snake Eyes and Blue Atlantic, priced at 7/2 and 20/1 respectively, and the latter looks particularly well treated at 8lb lower than most of the other prime contenders, due to his status as a four-year-old.
Tony Martin’s last-time-out winner Kinnitty Castle comes into each-way calculations at 25/1 with 7lb less to carry than five of his seven opponents, but today’s NAP goes to Dermot Weld’s Tandem at 4/1.
The so called ‘King of Ballybrit’ hasn’t taken many horses to Punchestown, with his only runner so far, First Figaro on Wednesday, beaten a head at 7/2 by David Pipe’s favourite Champers On Ice.
Tandem hasn’t been seen out since going down by 17-and-a-half lengths to Nicholls Canyon in November, after winning a Maiden Hurdle in Navan two months earlier.
Weld is ultra-canny at placing his horses and will have had a good look at the likes of Max Dynamite, Kinnitty Castle and Snake Eyes during the season, as all three have been out at least twice since December.
Bearing that in mind, Tandem must be primed for a stout run.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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