Punchestown Festival winner Jamie Codd gives his selections for day five of the Irish meeting including Champion Hurdle star Epatante.
2.35 – Dooley Insurance Group Cross Country Chase
The final day of the Punchestown Festival opens with a cross-country chase with loads of runners. I like the look of STAND UP AND FIGHT here.
He was third in the La Touche Cup last year. I think Enda Bolger has been keeping him for this race and he might take a bit of beating.
He was eight lengths behind Singing Banjo in the La Touche last year and he should go well for Aine O’Connor.
3.10 – Colm Quinn BMW Handicap Chase
I am going for Tom Gibney’s REGINA DRACONES here. She ran well behind her stablemate Velvet Elvis at Navan and the winner went on to run a cracker in the Irish Grand National, finishing sixth.
It looks like she will stay. She has a nice weight of 10st 10lb and Jack Foley takes 5lb off, so I will side with her.
3.50 – Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle
It is very hard to get away from EPATANTE. Her Champion Hurdle form is second only to Honeysuckle and in Aintree she was just in a different league.
I cannot see why she will not come to Punchestown and back it up again. She is going to take all the beating.
Telmesomethinggirl seemed to be running a big race in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham until she was brought down at the second last and, if she has recovered okay, she could be the one to chase Epatante home.
4.25 – Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase
This is a tough race to pick the winner of but I am going for WEST CORK WILDWAY, for Paul O’Flynn. I would say the better ground is going to help him on his first run since January.
He won a beginners’ chase in Thurles in November and he also won a couple of point-to-points before he went to the track. He beat The Bosses Oscar when he won in Thurles and that could be good enough at a price for him to be in the money.
Defi Bleu won well in Fairyhouse the last day. Rob James takes 7lb off and he is not without a chance if he puts in a similar display.
5.00 – Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle
I thought maybe Fil Dor or Pied Piper might beat VAUBAN in the Triumph Hurdle in Cheltenham. But VAUBAN was massively impressive and if he brings that form to the table he is going to be impossible to beat in this.
He looks a very classy horse and it will be hard for any of the rest to overturn him.
5.30 – Tote Always SP Or Better Handicap Hurdle
Philip Hobbs has a habit of getting a result when he brings a horse over to Punchestown and CAMPROND might be the horse to do it for him this year. He ran well in Cheltenham behind Commander Of Fleet and he should handle the ground.
6.05 – Buggyman (Pro/Am) Flat Race
This bumper is for unraced horses on the racetrack so it’s going to be very hard to predict a winner. It’s always competitive.
Willie Mullins has a Walk In The Park five-year-old called Ballybay and there are few with snippets of point-to-point form such as Gavin Cromwell’s Path D’oroux and Read To Return, trained by Tony Martin. The horse I will take a chance on is Pat Doyle’s BUILT BY BALLYMORE. He is a Flemensfirth horse for Sean and Bernardine Mulryan.
I am sure Pat will have this lad well-tuned. He is a very shrewd trainer. My horse Westcoastinformant goes really well and we would be delighted if he could finish in the money.