Our racing expert runs the rule over the Grade 1s on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.
It’s hard to get away from Willie Mullins’ GETABIRD in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (4:20) after his all-the-way success at Fairyhouse 22 days ago. Having lost his unbeaten record in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival, he looked far more at home over that right-handed track, settling beautifully and jumping well apart from a slight error at the second last, and this race looks his for the taking. Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue, who finished third and fourth in the Cheltenham race, head the opposition and might finish in the same order here, albeit at a respectable distance behind the favourite.
Willie Mullins sets punters a puzzle by running all three of his big guns in the Boylesports Champion Chase (5:30), although Paul Townend, who presumably had the choice, has opted for DOUVAN over Min and Un De Sceaux. His mount was travelling strongly and jumping well before departing four out in the Cheltenham equivalent and it’s anyone’s guess what could have played out. However, he had reportedly been showing all his old zest beforehand and he looks worth siding with here given he’s much the fresher horse.
Min is 2-2 here and should be suited by the return to 2m, having failed to confirm Cheltenham form with Politologue at Aintree 11 days, but he’s had a busy season and that also applies to his stablemate Un De Sceaux.
Monalee came off a clear second best behind Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, having been prominent throughout and perhaps too keen for his own good. He looked a better animal when winning the Flogas Chase over 2m5f previously and it could be he is better over that trip, so I’d be wary of taking a short price on him for the 3m Growise Champion Novice Chase (6:40), especially given the strength of the opposition.
The Flogas runner-up AL BOUM PHOTO was challenging for the places in the RSA when coming down heavily two out, ruling Ruby Walsh out of the rest of the Festival. But he showed no ill effects from that experience when bouncing back with a victory in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and I fancy he can again take care of the second Shattered Love, who looked a little tired when slowing down into the last with the race seemingly at her mercy (traded at a low of 1.07 in running) and getting caught close home. The winner was finishing with a real purpose and could be seen to even better effect over this extra half mile, so he gets the vote.
All odds were correct at time of posting.