We’re finishing off our 2023 Punchestown Festival tips with selections for all eight races from Saturday’s cracking action.
The Mares Champion Hurdle and the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle share centre stage in terms of Grade One status, plus there is another strong supporting card.
Here are the expert picks of Simon Milham at PA Racing:
Continued his good form over the cross country course here when runner-up in Thursday’s La Touche Cup, going down by just a neck to Vital Island. Was also second in this race 12 months ago and scored nicely over the banks in February.
Has been very highly tried this term but showed enough when 10th in a valuable Leopardstown handicap over Christmas and when 12th in the Aintree Grand National to suggest he is worth each-way support.
Harry Fry’s charge is backed to take the Mares Champion Hurdle crown back to Britain for the second year in succession, following on from Marie’s Rock plundering this prize for Nicky Henderson last term.
Love Envoi finished best of the rest behind the brilliant but now retired Honeysuckle in the equival event at the Cheltenham Festival, with the reopposing Queens Brook well beaten in third and Echoes In Rain, Brandy Love, Epatante and Shewearsitwell even further behind.
Dorset-based handler Anthony Honeyball is no stranger to success at this meeting and added to his tally of wins when Kilbeg King flew home for a convincing victory on Thursday.
Sam Brown has to recover from falling at The Chair in the Grand National and carries top weight here, but could be a class apart judged on last year’s Aintree success and a four-length third to Bravemansgame at Wetherby in October.
Suffered a shock defeat by Gala Marceau at the Dublin Racing Festival but put the record straight when beating her stablemate in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and now leads their rivalry 2-1, having also come out on top at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
Paul Townend will have had no hesitation in sticking with this French import, who showed no signs of feeling the effects of four runs in as many months when staying on strongly up the hill at Prestbury Park.
Martin Brassil’s charge gained both of his previous victories on heavy ground, including a course and distance success, and it was soft when he went down by just a head to Langer Dan in the Coral Cup, but is still worth following on this better surface.
This is the fourth foal out of the dam Janicellaine, who is a half-sister to useful Flat horse Chriselliam and smart jumper Mengli Khan, and the first three have all tasted victory, so Willie Mullins’ charge can uphold family honour on his bumper debut.
Goes into this charity Flat race in fine spirits following a nice score over hurdles at Kilbeggan and Gordon Elliott clearly thinks a fair bit of this €80,000 purchase, as he has been well backed on several occasions.
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