The last of three major Spring National Hunt Festivals in the UK and Ireland begins this week at Punchestown with five days of racing scheduled. Among the races featured on the first day are three Grade 1 events with Klassical Dream attempting a Cheltenham/Punchestown double in novice hurdling. All three of those races are covered below.
There are always big tricky handicaps at the Punchestown Festival so this year we have kept our race previews to the graded events and you”ll be able to see our handicap betting tips straight to Twitter @thatsabettingtip. Below there are previews and tips for Tuesday’s three big races.
Cheltenham Festival Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Klassical Dream attempts to follow that success by winning the Punchestown equivalent in which he will be opposed by three other stable mates from the Willie Mullins yard. A horse apiece representing Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson complete the opposition to the 5-year-old gelding who has won all three races this term.
Only Aramon and Felix Desjy are re-opposing Klassical Dream from the ‘Supreme’ and while the latter horse beat Aramon at Aintree, it is difficult to envisage them both overturning Cheltenham form. It could also be possible that Felix Desjy may just not like Prestbury Park where he has been well beaten on both appearances at the track.
Of the other competitors, Champagne Platinum has won both hurdle races for the Henderson yard but faces a much more difficult task than his Class 4 success at Newbury when last racing during December.
When Min was beaten yet again by Altior at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, his fifth place position the Queen Mother Champion Chase was described as a mistake in tactics by both jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Wille Mullins. Adopting a more forceful approach last month at Aintree, Min appeared to revel in the freedom up front and won the 2m4f Melling Chase by an easy twenty lengths.
The 8-year-old gelding could be difficult to oppose in this contest despite reverting back to two miles, with stable mate Un De Sceaux now showing signs of slowing down and Ordinary World earning a reputation as a ‘nearly horse’ having failed to win a race since October 2016.
Great Field could be a more dangerous opponent given a clear round. He has been successful in all five completed starts over fences but has fallen in both races this season, and may have been a beaten horse when a last fence faller in a race won by Simply Ned back in December.
Gordon Elliott will be trying to win this three-miles event with his chaser Delta Work who was a close third behind Topofthegame in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. The first three horses were well clear of the remainder and Elliott’s 6-year-old gelding was unbeaten in three races over fences prior to that defeat.
However, Delta Work will be conceding 5lb to Cheltenham Novices handicap winner A Plus Tard who won the Close Brothers Chase by 16 lengths. The Henry De Bromhead trained gelding also won a Grade 3 contest at Naas back in December before finishing a well beaten second behind Winter Escape earlier this year despite receiving a stone in weight. Both of those horses will be trying this extra distance for the first time whereas Delta Work is already an experienced staying horse.
Of the other challengers, the Willie Mullins trained Getabird is a point-to-point winner over three miles and gave the impression of needing more than 2m3f when beaten into second in his last race during late December. Meanwhile, Chris’s Dream ran poorly at Aintree last time before being tailed off, and may not have recovered from that effort.
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