After Grade 1 success on day one of the Punchestown Festival, Danny Mullins is back with more unmissable insight at Tote.
16:15 - Connolly's RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final
Breakeven won a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle back in February and got good handicap experience the last day. That’s definitely going to stand him in good stead coming back into a novice contest like this.
The main one we have to beat here is Heather Rocco for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. He won nicely in Limerick the last day and while his form is on a bit slower ground, he looks to be the one with a bit of class in the race.
16:50 - Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle
Marajman won in Clonmel last year and was quite impressive that day. He’s coming here off a layoff but on his homework he looks fairly fit coming into it, so hopefully he can show his true colours.
I wonder if the one in the race we’re all going to have to beat is Blue Sari. He looked like he was going to be a decent second in the Coral Cup before he fell at the last, although it’s not ideal coming here off the back of that, but a slightly older handicapper should be able to handle that. He should be able to put that experience to good use here.
17:20 - Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
Stattler ran a decent race at Cheltenham to finish fourth, but we probably expected a little bit more. I rode him behind Gaillard Du Mesnil in Leopardstown and looked like he was an out and out three-miler. I give him a good chance coming back here.
Vanillier was the winner of the Albert Bartlett and Gavin Cromwell’s horses were in great form all week. He really quickened away late on and definitely sets the standard here.
Paul takes the ride on Galopin Des Champs for Willie. He had been somewhat disappointing in his couple of runs previous to Cheltenham, but put it all together to win the Martin Pipe there. He’s coming back here into a Grade 1 and is matched on ratings with Vanillier. I think he’s the most likely one to beat Vanillier, but Stattler’s not out of it.
Gentlemansgame was just too disappointing at Fairyhouse and I wonder if he needs a good bit slower ground.
17:55 - Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1)
Al Boum Photo was never in true rhythm at Cheltenham and didn’t look as comfortable as he had in his previous two wins. I think he can come back and run a better race here, but still has a bit to prove.
Clan Des Obeaux comes over and he was very good at Aintree. I don’t know how strong the race was but take nothing away from the horse. He won by 26l and it was another 18l back to the third. You don’t win a Grade 1 like that unless you’re a seriously good horse.
Fakir D’oudairies won over 2m4f at Aintree and similarly to Clan Des Obeaux, there wasn’t huge strength and depth to the race but he’s won by 11l.
I take the ride on Kemboy and for whatever reason he just doesn’t seem to operate around Cheltenham. He was struggling from a long way out in the Gold Cup, but if you get back to his runs earlier in the season, where he was a half-length behind A Plus Tard and won the 3m chase at the Dublin Festival, that’s solid form. He won the last running of this race, so we know he likes it here and while he’s coming on the back of a blip, he’s definitely not out of it.
18:30 - Supporting Irish Store Sales Champion INH Flat Race (Grade 1)
It’s interesting that Patrick has gone for Sir Gerhard here. He probably got things his own way in Cheltenham, there wasn’t much pace on and Kilcruit was staying on well. Paul had to take that bit of cover on Kilcruit and didn’t get much of a tow into the race. I think circumstances really played against Kilcruit and he was possibly the best horse on the day. Derek O’Connor takes over the mount here and it’s going to be interesting.
I was in the Sir Gerhard camp going into the race, but even after he got beat I’m with Kilcruit here. He’s come out of Cheltenham well, he looks great and I think he’s going to come out on top.
19:00 - Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A)
Annamix is a horse I’ve ridden quite a bit this season and I thought the last day on better ground was a good run. He travelled and jumped well and stayed on again. He’s a horse weight will be no problem to, he jumps very well and I wouldn’t have him out of this race. He’s one I think will go very close in it.
Willie is going to be well represented here. Livelovelaugh put in an unbelievable spin in the Topham Chase. He was clear half-way, they got to him, he picked up and went away and won nicely. I do wonder if his jumping won it for him that day, leaving a lot of petrol in the tank. He’s just been a difficult one to place and when knocking on the door he just doesn’t seem to win as often as you would like.
Royal Rendezvous is a very decent horse on his day. He started favourite for the Galway Plate last time out only to get beat less than a length. I won on him before at Naas but the layoff might just come against him.