Day three of Punchestown’s spring Festival and I would have taken a chance on top-weight Voix Du Reve in the 2m handicap chase were it not for the form of the Iain Jardine stable. On the best of his form for Willie Mullins he is extremely well handicapped and outstanding conditional Jordan Gaisford takes off a valuable 7lbs.
Mark Walsh has chosen, arguably, unlucky Cheltenham runner up Entoucas of the five JP McManus owned runners but he remains a maiden over fences and marginal preference is for Unexcepted (4.15). The ew selection – 15/2 with MansionBet 5 places – has not been seen since disappointing at Grade 1 level at Leopardstown back in February but did beat Entoucas 8L at Tipperary back in October. Any further rain would be a positive.
Beacon Edge jumped and travelled extremely well in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month but could not get past the impressive winner Flooring Porter (5.25) who kept finding from the front. This flat track should suit but is hard to see why he should reverse the form. He was a late withdrawal from a Fairyhouse contest over 2m 4f at Easter and I am convinced that is his optimum trip.
Flooring Porter – 9/4 with William Hill – has improved in leaps and bounds since making the switch to frontrunning tactics and, if in the same mood as the Festival, he will be a tough nut to crack.
Energumene (6.35) missed the Arkle through injury but cannot be opposed in the 2m Novice Chase. The Mullins-trained 7-y-old has won his three chases this term by an aggregate of 36L and his showdown with Shishkin was one of the most eagerly awaited clashes of the year.
That must wait for next term and the prospect of the pair going head-to-head with Chacun Pour Soi at Cheltenham next March is mouth-watering. Many feel that the latter will never get up the Cheltenham hill. I believe the Mullins’ camp got their tactics wrong last month and he will be ridden more aggressively going forward.
Dreamseller is likely to be all the rage at Musselburgh having weakened close home when fourth at Pontefract on his reappearance. He won second time out last season but is still 6lbs higher than his last winning mark. The vote, however, goes to the lightly raced Yukon (4.35) who was only beaten a couple of lengths at Newcastle on his reappearance but was constantly denied a run. His pedigree suggests he will get further in time, but this looks a good opportunity for the 4-y-old with the David O’Meara yard in good form of late. The selection is 7/2 with 10Bet.
O’Meara saddles the Cheveley Park owned filly Propriety in the finale and connections will be hoping to get a win next to her name for the breeding sheds. The filly ran an eye-catching race at Beverley on her first start for the stable when she was slowly away but pulled her way to the front. To be beaten less than a length in her first-time visor was an excellent performance and this easier track should suit.
If she learns to settle, she could easily come home alone but I am a big fan of Wise Eagle who was all out to get to Mutamaded (5.05) at Catterick last week. The 8-y-old has been raised 3lbs for that effort but can race off his old mark this afternoon.
The selection – 3s with BetVictor – won over C&D from a 16lbs higher mark back in August 2019 – his sole run at today’s track – and is 1lb better off with Propriety for the half a length he was behind the filly at Beverley on his penultimate start. His Catterick effort suggests he has improved since Beverley and he gets the vote for Ruth Carr who has made a quiet start to the turf season.