Chacun Pour Soi lit up the opening day of the Punchestown Festival a day on a day dominated by Willie Mullins who saddled five of the eight winners. There was also a couple of bubbles burst in the 3m Novice Chase with Monkfish and Envoi Allen both disappointing. The latter now has a bit to prove.
The highlight of Day 2 of the Punchestown Festival is the feature race of the week the Gold Cup run over an extended three miles. News broke on Monday that Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo has a bruised foot and misses the race, which is a great shame, and, in his absence, I hope to see the Paul Nicholls’ trained Clan Des Obeaux (5.55) take the prize back to Ditcheat as well as a E100,000 bonus given by one of the Festival sponsors for a British trained winner of a Grade 1 contest during the five days.
It was not much of a race that the selection – 3s with Boylesports – won at Aintree, but he could not have been more impressive in his first-time cheekpieces and the return to a righthand track will suit. Dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo sets the standard although I think Kemboy is the biggest danger given he beat his stablemate in the corresponding race two years ago. I am sure he is also a better horse going righthanded.
Sir Gerhard (6.30) made all in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last month and he looks a slightly faster horse than stablemate Kilcruit who was a never nearer half-length second at the Festival. Leading amateur Patrick Mullins was unable to ride at Cheltenham, but one would imagine he would have had the choice of mounts this afternoon. I believe he has made the right decision although this is no two-horse race with Ramilles and the once-raced Lake Winnipesaukee both sure to have their supporters. The selection is 5/4 with William Hill.
My two against the field in the valuable 2m 4f handicap chase are the Topham winner Livelovelaugh – 15/2 with BetVictor – and British raider Black Op (7.00) and it is the latter who gets the each way vote. The selection travelled well but failed to get home in the Gold Cup last month and today’s intermediate trip looks ideal. Tom Scudamore keeps the ride. There was plenty of 12/1 available on Tuesday but he was nibbled at into 9s with BetVictor at the time of posting – 5 places.
Jamie Osborne has his string in good form and in the opener at Ascot I hope to see Cliffs Of Capri (1.00) make a winning reappearance under the trainer’s talented daughter Saffie who is excellent value for her 5lbs claim. The selection finished runner up off today’s mark over 7f here back in July but has not seen the track since running a very good race in the valuable mile handicap at Glorious Goodwood. The selection – 4s with 10Bet – has run well fresh in the past and he can give weight and a beating to his eight rivals.
The Champion Stayer Stradivarius has his prep run for a fourth Ascot Gold Cup in June in today’s Group 3 Sagaro Stakes. It seems inconceivable that he does not carry a penalty for this contest but that is the case given he lost his last three races of 2020 after landing the Goodwood Cup.
Nayef Road (2.45) has just a length to find with the odds-on favourite on Goodwood running and has an excellent record fresh. He is a couple of years younger than Stradivarius, and both remain full horses. First time out might be the time to catch Nayef Road. If he is ever going to beat the Champion Stayer – who will be bidding to emulate the magnificent stayer Yeats at the Royal meeting – it could well be this afternoon. The 4s with BetVictor looks about right.
Clive Cox’s Richmond and Middle Park winner Supremacy should be able to give weight to his rivals in the trial for the Commonwealth Cup, but it might be significant that the stable’s Greenham and Fred Darling runners at Newbury ten days ago both looked in need of the run. It might be prudent to look for an each way alternative.
Apollo One is a horse I have plenty of time for and could well be overpriced but I felt Saint Lawrence (3.20) looked every inch a sprinter when nabbed close home in a 7f handicap at Newbury on his reappearance and Roger Varian brings his 3-y-old back to 6f for the first time since his racecourse debut at Brighton. The ew recommendation is 13/2 with 10Bet.
The combination of five furlongs and fast ground looks ideal for Rewaayat (4.30) and he can go one better than when runner up at Newmarket on his reappearance from a 1lb lower mark. The 6-y-old – 9/4 with 10Bet – was too keen and failed to get home last time, and the hope is that he will be less fresh this afternoon.
At Chelmsford this evening, Glint Of An Eye (7.15) is taken to go one better than when runner up at Leicester on Saturday when the filly, who remains a maiden after 11 starts, was given a bit too much to do under Hayley Turner. Kieran Shoemark takes over in the saddle this evening and trainer Henry Spiller will be keen to get a win under her belt. Indeed, his string have all been running well in defeat of late. The selection is 15/8 with MansionBet.