Our resident tipster is taking on one of the Willie Mullins-trained hotpots running at Punchestown
Faugheen is the star turn on day four of the Punchestown and he looks a good thing to confirm Champion Hurdle form with Arctic Fire. The latter may still be improving but he has found winning difficult at the top level and is coming off a nasty-looking fall at Aintree. While Faugheen is still prone to the odd error, he has an incredible engine – his record of nine wins from as many starts is evidence of that – and he was even more impressive at Punchestown last year than when winning the Neptune Novices’. Sadly, he’s no betting proposition at 2/7.
The day’s other Grade 1 features another short-priced favourite in Nichols Canyon, who was winning his third Grade 1 over hurdles at Aintree last time, following on from his third to Windsor Park in this year’s Neptune. That’s the best form in offer by some way but he’s been on the go all season and, having looked like he had gone in his coat at Aintree (didn’t stop him winning, admittedly), he might be worth taking on here at odds-on.
Stablemates Outlander and Sempre Medici are respected, but the one who might give him most to do is the Mouse Morris-trained and Bryan Cooper-ridden ALPHA DES OBEAUX, who is surely better than his current 138 rating. An easy winner of a maiden over today’s trip here in November, he finished second to the top-class Black Hercules (3m) and Douvan (2m) on his next two starts, and was in the process of giving the very useful Thistlecrack a race when falling at the last (a length down) in a Grade 1 at Aintree last time. Clearly still improving and likely to strip fitter for that run, his first in 90 days, he looks well worth chancing at the 6/1 on offer, with a reverse forecast bet combining the favourite serving as the insurance.
Stuart Kittow has his Devon-based stable in cracking form and has been sending out winners under both codes this last fortnight, with his last six runners producing form figures of 100113. Clearly anything he runs right now deserves close attention and his MAY BE SOME TIME looks something to bet on in the opening 1m4f handicap at Chepstow this afternoon. The seven-year-old has looked as good as ever in his last two starts, scoring over hurdles at Taunton in March and then finishing a close third in a Windsor handicap when switched back to the level.
He was possibly unlucky not to win that latter race as he lost his position slightly around the home turn and wouldn’t have been suited by the lack of an end-to-end gallop over a trip that was on the short side. With an extra three furlongs (near enough) to travel today and off just a 1lb higher mark, he looks sure to run a big race at a track he has gone well at in the past (second on his last two starts here). The fact he gets weight from all his rivals is another positive and the icing on the cake is the booking of Kieren Fallon.
Kittow and Fallon team up again in the 5f handicap run later on the card with MACDILLON, and he too is worth an interest. The nine-year-old is making his seasonal reappearance but that’s no real concern given how well his stablemates have been performing and the fact he has gone well fresh, winning first time out last season. His lack of course form is the only real worry, but the 5/1 on offer helps compensate for that.