Paul Ferguson has three selections from Punchestown on Wednesday; Ballycasey at 4.55, Briar Hill at 6.05 and Beat That at 7.15. Compare odds and bet.
Moyle Park provided Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci with a winner yesterday and the same connections can expect to hit the winners’ enclosure once again today courtesy of Ballycasey (4:55) who can complete the hat-trick over hurdles in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.
The six-year-old, who admittedly has beat little of note to date over timber, could hardly have been more impressive in winning twice and towards the head of the market for the Albert Bartlett, only to be pulled out on the morning of the race.
Stable-mate Inish Island, who re-opposed here, went on to finish third behind At Fishers Cross and the fact that Ruby Walsh again opts to take the ride aboard the unexposed grey (when his stable-mate has the stronger form in the book) looks quite significant.
The selection was trading slightly shorter than I had hoped last night (best price 11/10 with Bet Victor) but, in all honesty, this doesn’t look the strongest renewal and, with only 7 going to post, it isn’t a race that appeals from an each-way perspective; if it had, Aintree third Seefood would have been of interest at 16/1.
Later on the card Mullins’ Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (6:05) can complete the Grade 1 double that stable-mate Champagne Fever (and Cousin Vinny before that) managed last year.
A hugely impressive winner at the Festival, when he had 7 lengths to spare at the line over the smart Regal Encore and this doesn’t look as strong an event. Again, the five-year-old is slightly shorter than I’d hoped (13/8 best with Bet Victor overnight) but it is hoped that both him and Ballycasey touch bigger odds this morning.
Sizing Chile represents Mullins in the second bumper on the card, the 2m2f attheraces.com INH Flat Race, but this can go the way of Nicky Henderson’s Beat That (7:15) who finished an encouraging second at Kempton on debut in February.
Well-bred, the son of Milan was backed in to odds on before the off, but gave the leader way too much rope and, despite making inroads up the home straight, he could only get to within 3¾ lengths at the line.
The third came out and ran well in the Grade 2 at Aintree, while the sixth has won over hurdles since, so the form doesn’t look too bad and, with plenty of stamina on the dam’s side, the extra ¼ mile should be in his favour.
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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)