Our resident tipster is hoping to get the front three in the Punchestown Gold Cup market beat
Today’s undoubted highlight is the Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30pm), which sees the Cheltenham Gold Cup second and third – Djakadam and Road To Riches – lock horns with impressive Aintree winner Don Cossack and a strong supporting cast, including British raiders Cue Card and Ballynagour.
The Cheltenham form looks very strong with also-rans Silviniaco Conti (Betfred Bowl) and Many Clouds (Grand National) coming out and winning big races since. However, neither of those horses got into a battle with Coneygree up the home straight and, while Djakadam and Road To Riches have had 47 days to recover, it’s quite possible the race has emptied them. With the pair hovering around the 3/1 mark, I’d rather not take the risk.
Don Cossack would appear to be the obvious alternative, but he too comes with a risk as he’s never won over further than two miles and seven furlongs. Connections are running him in this to get a better idea of where to go next season and, while he might well stay, I’d want bigger than the current 11/4 before getting involved.
It looks a big ask to get the front three all beat, but BALLYNAGOUR could well take a hand now that he’s proven his stamina for three miles by making Silviniaco Conti battle hard in the Bowl. He was beaten just a neck that day and, more importantly, wasn’t stopping over the 3m1f trip, with the application of a first-time hood a likely factor in that career-best effort. The headgear is back on today and he does have some course form, having finished runner-up to Sizing Europe in the two-miler last year. At 11/1, he looks worth chancing.
Of the rest, it would be no surprise to see CUE CARD run well and he’s tempting too at the 14/1 on offer. Many people have written this horse off but he showed plenty of his old spark when finishing second to Don Cossack at Aintree and would have finished a lot closer but for a mistake three out. Connections are trying a few new things with cheek-pieces and a tongue-tie going on for the first time and he has a new partner in Aidan Coleman. They could all combine to make a massive difference.
The Galway Handicap Chase run later on the card (6.40pm) looks wide open with most bookmakers going 8/1 the field. Tom Taaffe’s Gold Bullet comes in at that price and he doesn’t look too badly treated on his return to handicap company, having done well to win a conditions event at Clonmel last time.
However, I can’t let Warren Gretarex’s BABY MIX go unbacked at 10/1 after he carried my cash at Aintree last time when, in hindsight, he would have needed the run and possibly found the 2m trip on the sharp side. He likes to get on with things up front and it’s not hard to see him getting into a good rhythm around here and relishing the step up in trip. A classy juvenile hurdler when with Tom George, he showed he could get it done over fences too when slamming Turn Over Sivola by 18 lengths at Kempton three starts back, and he’s running off just a 1b higher mark today.