18:05 Punchestown – Steps to Freedom to upset fancied favourite
Although Waaheb has barely put a foot wrong on his three racecourse appearances to date, there is a strong possibility that he will find Steps to Freedom too good in the Champion INH Flat Race.
Waaheb is the 11/8 favourite in the Punchestown betting to win the Grade One bumper and is preparing for a first run under new owner JP McManus.
The horse has been targeted at the race for much of the season by trainer Dermot Weld, who even took the decision not to send Waaheb to the recent Cheltenham Festival.
Waaheb’s Punchestown chances are aided by the statistic that ten of the last 12 winners of the Grade One have had no more than three runs, but this is a trend that also brings in Steps to Freedom.
Gordon Elliott’s horse has seen his two victories split by a fall at Bellewstown, but he bounced back impressively to win a Grade Two bumper at Aintree last month when defeating the highly-regarded Montbazon.
Other elements that work in favour of Steps to Freedom, who is 7/2, is that he comes from off the pace and is ridden by Nina Carberry, who has already been on board two horses to have tasted success in the Champion INH Flat Race.
Meanwhile, front runners do not have a great record in the race, which goes against Waaheb, while Hidden Universe was only the second four-year-old to claim victory 12 months ago.
Ten winners since 1992 headed to Punchestown having previously run in the Champion Bumper on their latest start and this could enhance the chances of Aupcharlie.
Aupcharlie finished third at Cheltenham and is 10/1 to build on this run with a victory at Punchestown.
A £30 stake on Aupcharlie winning the Champion INH Flat Race would return £300. New customers can sign up here for a free £30 bet.