Side with Cheltenham-winning pair on opening day of Punchestown

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Three Grade One contests are the obvious highlights on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival and in two of the races the winners enclosure could end up looking incredibly similar to Cheltenham earlier this year.

Sprinter Sacre is unopposable in the Punchestown Champion Chase at 1/10, while Champagne Fever is 11/8 to land the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

However, forecasts could be the way forward in each showpiece to enhance profits.

16:20 Punchestown – Champagne Fever and Rule The World

Although 2m was regarded as potentially being on the short side for Champagne Fever in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, his excess stamina up the Cheltenham hill proved the key ingredient as he beat the well-backed favourite My Tent Or Yours and Jezki.

The latter opposes again over the same trip here and is expected to be suited by this less-demanding track.

But the heavy ground will not be in his favour and therefore preference is for those with more proven stamina.

This makes Champagne Fever the one to beat and his chief opposition could well come from Rule The World (4/1).

Rule The World is not only unbeaten over 2m, he has never lost on ground described as heavy and is 1-1 at Punchestown.

He was a good second in the Neptune at Cheltenham over 2m4f, finishing ahead of the highly-regarded Pont Alexandre in the process and it may be significant that owners appear to have preferred him to Un Atout for this.

17:30 Punchestown – Sprinter Sacre and Sizing Europe

Sprinter Sacre is back over 2m after his exploits up in trip at Aintree and though this represents his first contest out of England since joining Nicky Henderson, the travel is unlikely to have much impact.

The way he ran away with the Queen Mother Champion Chase was breathtaking and Sizing Europe can be expected to chase him home again at Punchestown.

He has already beaten Foildubh this season when conceding weight, so this result should be repeated off level weights, while Foildubh beat Days Hotel last time.

Days Hotel is from the same yard as Sizing Europe too and with the choice of the two, Andrew Lynch’s decision to pick the 11-year-old veteran is also significant.

Additionally, Sizing Europe has virtually a stone in hand over the other three entrants aside from the favourite and assuming he does not set off too quickly, finishing second should prove a formality.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.