Paul Ferguson has two selections from Punchestown on Tuesday; Jezki in the 4.20 and Moyle Park at 6.05. Compare odds and bet.
The feature on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival is the Boyelsports.com Champion Chase in which the imperious Sprinter Sacre is impossible to oppose in his bid to make it five from five for the season.
There are another two Grade 1s on the card, with the Growise Champion Novice Chase over 3m1f looking a really competitive affair. National Hunt Chase winner Back In Focus drops back in trip and takes on stable-mate Boston Bob, who fell at the last in the RSA, while Harry Topper bids to put Kim Bailey back in the big time.
Earlier on the card the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle looks another cracker with Champagne Fever bidding to follow up Cheltenham success at the meeting for a second successive season.
The Supreme winner had 2¾ lengths to spare over Jezki (4:20) at the Festival, but Jessie Harrington’s five-year-old is fancied to reverse form on this sharper track that will play to his strengths.
The selection gained the verdict when the pair met in the Royal Bond in December, when admittedly in receipt of 3lbs, and he can ensure that owner JP McManus wins this contest for the third year in success. Mistakes at the last two flights cost him his chance at Cheltenham, but he travelled really well and should relish this less demanding test.
With Tony McCoy on the sidelines, Barry Geraghty gets the leg up and the jockey is currently unbeaten aboard the son of Milan, having won on his three times earlier in the season. Both horses were available at 13/8 overnight and, though Rule The World is also respected, Jezki has the pace to land the spoils.
Champagne Fever’s connections, Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci, can gain compensation later on the card with expensive purchase Moyle Park (6:05) in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper, a race Mullins won in 2006 and 2008.
The son of Flemensfirth beat subsequent winner Blackmail at Leopardstown over Christmas, after which he was snapped up for £250,000 at the Cheltenham sales in January. Mullins has given his five-year-old plenty of time to settle in to his new surroundings and this has probably been the objective for some time.
This is usually a warm event and both The Game Changer (won well on debut under a confident ride) and wide-margin points winner Wrath Of Titans are just a couple to note, while there are plenty of newcomers from leading yards lining up. That said, Moyle Park looked a cracking prospect on debut and is taken to start repaying his hefty price tag with immediate effect. He opened up 15/8 with Paddy Power this morning
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)