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Punchestown Festival Thursday Tips

It's day three of the Punchestown Festival

Our racing expert has a couple of bets lined up for day three of the meeting.

After some shock results over the first two days and the inexplicable drama surrounding Al Boum Photo on Wednesday, it seems that anything is possible at this meeting. That said, it’s very hard to look beyond FOOTPAD for the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase (6:40).

Willie Mullins’ six-year-old has proved imperious since going over fences and was taking his record to 4-4 when following up his Irish Arkle victory in the Cheltenham equivalent last month. He had Petit Mouchoir well behind in both those races – all of 15 lengths at Prestbury Park – and it’s hard to see that horse turning the tables here, especially as he looked to be feeling his hard race at Cheltenham when beaten at Aintree subsequently at odds-on. Indeed, it might be worth looking elsewhere for the forecast bet and Castlegrace Paddy, who is 2-2 over fences, could be the one to follow Footpad home, albeit at a respectable distance.

Mullins also looks to have a strong hand in the other Grade 1 on the card, the 3m Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (5:30), as his PENHILL is a general 2/1 favourite to follow up his victory in the Cheltenham version, while he has no less than six stablemates amongst his rivals. The best of these may be Bacardys as he was still fighting for a place when coming down at the final flight in the Cheltenham race, although jumping clearly remains an issue for him and he certainly wouldn’t have beaten Penhill, who won going away with something to spare.

The selection has another thing in his favour here in that he is a fresh horse as his victory at the Festival was his first run for over a year. Indeed, he can be expected to improve again now he has that run under his belt. Granted, he couldn’t follow up his Albert Bartlett success at this meeting 12 months ago but he still ran well to finish second behind Champagne Classic over course and distance, with the likes of Monalee, Al Boum Photo and Presenting Percy in behind. He looks in a class of his own in this division and the 9/4 on offer at Boylesports will do for me.

The handicaps are far tougher as you’d expect, but A GREAT VIEW is weighted to reverse Cheltenham form with Glenloe in the 3m Alanna Homes Handicap Hurdle (6:05), with a little over eight lengths separating the pair when they finished second and sixth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. The selection didn’t help his cause by whacking two out, which cost him a place or two as he fairly motored home after the last, and he would have enjoyed a stronger gallop, which seems likely here. Indeed, these big-field handicaps seem to suit him well – he also finished second at Leopardstown over Christmas and was fifth at the Dublin Racing Festival – and he looks to have as good a chance as any under Mark Walsh, with bet365’s 9/1 looking fair value.

SELECTIONS

Punchestown 5.30, Penhill @ 9/4 Boylesports
Punchestown 6.05, A Great View @ 9/1, bet365
Punchestown 6.40, Footpad-Castlegrace Paddy straight forecast

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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