Let’s get off to a profitable start this Punchestown. The opening day of the Festival has three Grade 1s, and the easiest bet to start with is Un De Sceaux to win the Champion Chase at 17:30.
Granted, he may not have the ease in the ground he likes, but he didn’t when winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
He’s won at Punchestown many times before so lets just write his name down. Fox Norton is a threat but only slightly in my opinion. At around even-money, UDS is my big bet of the day.
Labaik can confirm Supreme superiority over Melon
The first Grade 1 contest on the card is the Champion Novice Hurdle at 16:20. This is so interesting as we’ll see a handful of the Supreme Novices’ winners lock horns again.
It’s the first race of the meeting where Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins really take each other on, and we’ll see what Labaik can really do.
If he agrees to race and jumps off, I think he has a great chance of beating Melon again.
I initially fancied Melon until I watched the Supreme Novices’ again. He actually sweated up a good bit before the race and had a great passage through the race.
But Labaik looked a better horse, no doubt. Bunk Off Early could improve as he was bumped around a lot throughout the race and was never allowed to get any momentum.
Against my earlier thoughts, I’m backing Gordon in this one. Labaik is the bet for me.
Fresh Fly can land Champion Novice Chase
The final Grade 1 on the card, the Champion Novice Chase at 18:40, isn’t the usual top, top standard that we’ve come to know in this race.
But the standard is set by Disko, who beat subsequent Irish National winner Our Duke and finished third in the JLT Novices’ Chase to Yorkhill.
Acapella Bourgeois also lines up, the horse that nearly lapped the opposition in Navan before a disappointing run on better ground at the Cheltenham Festival.
Without any ease again today I’ll sidestep him for another day to bounce back.
Instead, I am going to back Anibale Fly. a winner at the Punchestown Festival last season when winning the 25 runner Coral Handicap Hurdle.
He won a Grade 3 in January and was delcared a non-runner at Fairyhouse so arrives here fresh. He’s been busy in the betting this morning also, so if you agree with me, get your bet on quick.
Have a great opening day of the brilliant Punchestown Festival and make sure you check back tomorrow morning for another preview.
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