Punchestown Festival: We preview the last three days in Ireland

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The Punchestown Festival finishes up with three more days of pulsating action across Thursday afternoon and into Saturday.

Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins will both be hoping for more success with big fancies in the Champion Hurdle, Ryanair Novices’ Chase and the Mares’ Champion Hurdle.

We’ve previewed two of the major races from each of the last three days over in Ireland…

Thursday 26th April

5:30pm Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle

Penhill surprised everyone by claiming the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. He’ll bid for a fourth success in five starts on his favourable Yielding Ground at Punchestown.

Paul Townend will once again take the ride in the absence of Ruby Walsh. The seven-year-old will face a field full of game chances.

Barcardys will need to show significant improvement after falling in his last two starts. Meanwhile,Identity Thief comes into this in form after a 5l success in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

Henry De Bromhead’s charge has shown great improvement throughout the season.

6:40pm Ryanair Novice Chase

Can anyone stop Footpad? On the back of his 14l win in the Arkle at Cheltenham, it’s hard to see where a challenge could come from.

Willie Mullins’ raider bids for a five-timer in this one to cap a sensational first season chasing.

Petit Mouchoir, Castlegrace Paddy and Asthuria are among the contenders who will likely be fighting it out for places.

Friday 27th April

5:30pm Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Mullins has saddled the winner of this race in seven of the last years. So he’ll be expecting more success with Cheltenham Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon.

The six-year-old has been inconsistent this season but showed his true quality at Prestbury Park.

He’ll need to be firing on all cylinders once again to repel the advances of the unbeaten Samcro, who has won all seven of his races so far. He won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out and is six from six in Ireland, too.

Supasundae, Min and the veteran My Tent Or Yours will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups from the front two in the market. Last year’s winner Wicklow Brave is also in the running.

6:05pm Champion Novice Hurdle

Pallasator has won two from two over the 2m4f distance and will likely go off as favourite with Davy Russell on-board.

The nine-year-old showed a touch of class in his 2l victory over Jetz earlier this month and has the credentials to land the hat-trick at Punchestown.

Blow By Blow finished 13l behind the jolly last time out and leads the opposition again this time around.

Cartwright and Debuchet are also in with a shout, while Getabird will go again after Tuesday’s defeat in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

Saturday 28th April

3:50pm Mares’ Champion Hurdle

Apple’s Jade didn’t get the desired ground at the Cheltenham Festival last month. She’ll be looking to bounce back with a fifth-straight success in Ireland to retain her Mares’ Champion Hurdle crown.

However, this year’s field is marked with dangerous opponents.

Benie Des Dieux has won four from four since switching to Mullins’ yard in 2016. She provides the main danger as she bids to follow up her OLBG Mares’ Hurdle success at Cheltenham.

Laurina also boasts some incredible form lines, having won her last four contests by a combined distance of 52½l. The five-year-old bolted up at Cheltenham for a first Grade 1 success in The Dawn Run and will take on a classier field here as a result.

Midnight Tour, Jer’s Girl and Lagostovegas will all want to be involved in the final shake-up.

4:25pm Champion Four Year Old Hurdle

Mullins and Elliott saddle the entire field in this Grade 1 contest, with Farclas and Mr Adjudacator set to go off as the top two in the market.

The pair are familiar foes, having traded blows in their last two respective outings.

Farclas came out on top in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, while Mr Adjudactor ran out the winner when the two met at Leopardstown in February.

The latter won their last battle over 2m and that could give him the advantage over the same trip on yielding ground on Saturday.

Stormy Ireland and Saglawy are next in the betting, both for Mullins’ yard.

 All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the University of East Anglia where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper Concrete. He also supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Other passions include darts, cricket, speedway and horse racing.