Three down, two to go.
A brilliant Punchestown has thrown up talking points aplenty so far, and although Jezki took the stayers’ crown yesterday it was the legend that is Hurricane Fly who got the biggest cheer, when returning to the unfamiliar runner-up space post race.
As the sun shone later on Un De Sceaux did what Un De Sceaux does, in the process earning one punter somewhere in the region of €30,000 after a reported monster bet of €200,000.
Not a bad return on investment if you can hold your nerve for the four minutes and five seconds it took for next year’s Champion Chase favourite to zoom around Ireland’s best racecourse!
Willie Mullins already has a whopping nine winners on the board, and after plundering the majority of the Grade 1’s he yesterday started throwing his weight around in the La Touche, a handicap hurdle, a novice and a bumper.
There’s a very useful horse called Domination, no prizes for guessing who it must have been named after…
On to day four then, and with massive crowds expected and the weather looking good, we’ll chance our arm with the Henry De Bromhead-trained Shanahan’s Turn in race two on the card, the 2m 5f EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (4.20pm).
De Bromhead enjoyed a massive win when Special Tiara bagged a Grade 1 at Sandown Park on Saturday, and lost out by a nostril when 20/1 A Sizing Network was just beaten into second here yesterday.
This afternoon’s race looks a perfect assignment for Shanahan’s Turn, who was fifth in a Grade 1 over hurdles here 12 months ago, before going chasing in the autumn.
Ground doesn’t seem to be an issue for a horse who has thrived over fences and loves Punchestown, winning his first two over the larger obstacles, both at this venue.
His last two appearances have been in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown, and even if he’s been biting off a bit more than he can chew there, this represents a far more realistic target.
Just 35 minutes later it’s girl power that comes to the fore on Ladies’ Day, and after getting the job done with Jezki yesterday and enjoying a 50/1 stunner with Walk To Freedom on Wednesday Jessie Harrington has two leading chances in the 2m 5f Mares’ Handicap Chase, running last year’s winner Burn And Turn as well as the ever improving Annie Oakley.
Burn And Turn is 10 pounds higher in the weights than she was this time last year, and at twice the odds it might be worth investing in her two years younger stablemate.
Annie Oakley has won two of her last three, going in at Down Royal and Wexford, and although the handicapper shunted her up 10 pounds for her most recent win, the five pound claim of rider Paddy Kennedy helps negate half of that additional burden.
Friday’s best bets at Punchestown: