Punchestown is back with a real bang. The field is incredible with so many big winners from Cheltenham straight in. It’s really disappointing not the be able to be there in person to see all those winners running again. There’s also a great turn out of English horses coming over.
The first day could see the race of the week in the Champion Novice Chase with Monkfish and Envoi Allen going head to head. It is impossible to split these horses in terms of ability, so, the only thing I can call out is that Monkfish is coming off a win at Cheltenham and Envoi Allen is coming off a fall. Monkfish has more experience after that run.
I generally don’t like horses coming back from a fall. It takes them a run or two to get back in terms of confidence. If he was going into a lesser race it might not matter but here you want him going in confident rather than with a question mark. It was for the same reason that I couldn’t get behind Minella Indo, despite the favourite tag, in the Dublin Racing Festival. On that occasion I was right and the horse finished 4th before being back to winning ways in the next race.
Monkfish didn’t jump particularly well at Cheltenham but he still got around and won, I think he will benefit from that mentally. He did very well and it shows his ability. With Envoi Allen it is possibly in the back of their minds now that “we just need to get around” whereas whoever rides Monkfish won’t be thinking that.
I can’t see anything else in this race.
Earlier on Tuesday’s card we have the Champion Steeplechase. I’ve been talking about Allaho for two or three years now. He got an exceptional ride at Cheltenham. They dropped him back in trip, threw the reins on his neck and just let him run. They’re dropping him back again which some won’t see as a plus but for me Punchestown is a big, wide open track and it is really going to suit him. If he gets into the same rhythm as he did in Cheltenham and he will be very hard to peg back.
Chacun Pour Soi is a very good horse too and the favourite for this race. I noticed that in the Queen Mother after jumping the back last, he changed his front leg and stopped. You’d expect him to quicken after changing leg but he didn’t. Whether he felt something or it was the ground, I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything more about it but I felt there was something there.
There’s a lot of quality in this race (Nube Negra, Frist Flow, Fakir D’oudairies) and the others won’t be far behind but I’ve liked Allaho for a long time and he really seems to be hitting his straps now and finding the finishing post, so, I will stick with him. He’s got a lot going for him.
Wednesday is Gold Cup day and it has a fabulous field.
Al Bloum Photo was a little disappointing in Cheltenham, I thought he’d go a lot further with them and really threaten. The winner Minella Indo cruised around and found it easy. His ears were pricked on the line and seemed to have a bit more in the tank. Maybe Al Boum Photo will benefit from that run though previously his run at Tramore was enough for him. I’m not sure how he is going to get back at Minella Indo, the reigning champion. He is going to be hard to beat.
Having said that I do like Al Boum Photo and I can find reasons to go for him but I’m just not sure. I wouldn’t like to have to call this race.
Tiger Roll is in there too, I’m not sure why. I’m baffled at why they are entering him in these Chase races.
On Wednesday we also the Champion Bumper. I’ve always been with Sir Gerhard, I think he’s a very good horse. I think he’s going to get better and better. He’s caught my eye since the day I saw him winning his Point To Point. There’s not too many who can lead the Bumper at Cheltenham and win it like he did. By leading, he did it the hard way and still won. Willie Mullins’ Kilcruit will have gained experience, he’s been through a dogfight and will improve off it.
They are two very good horses and it will be tight but I will stick with Sir Gerhard. I think he is a horse for the future.
The Champion Hurdle on Thursday will see Goshen amongst the runners. He might have grown up a bit now and not be as tricky as he was as a young horse. His form has been too up and down for me. He hasn’t really sparked but you are always wary of horse that have that level of ability. If they do put in the performance one day, they could beat everything around them. Going on form, I wouldn’t be on his side.
Honeysuckle won easily at Cheltenham easily. I can’t see anything beating her unless she turns up in season or a little bit flat. The manner in which she won was time makes her hard to beat. She needs to have a really off day. There’s only one Honeysuckle in that race.