Punchestown Festival

The National Hunt season is coming to its end but before our attention turns fully to the flat, we’ve got the ever popular Punchestown Festival to enjoy. There are big races on each day of the meeting but there’s no doubt that the feature of the festival is Wednesday’s Punchestown Gold Cup.

Punchestown Gold Cup Preview & Betting Tips – Wednesday 26th April 2017

The race doesn’t only share a name with its equivalent at Cheltenham, traditionally many of the horses who competed at Prestbury Park also make the trip to Ireland for a crack at the Grade 1 test. Run over a distance of three miles, one furlong, the Punchestown Gold Cup course has 17 fences to jump and is a fitting test of the calibre of horses in the field. As with Cheltenham, there have been some big name withdrawals in the lead up to Punchestown but punters still have plenty of quality options to choose from.

Race Analysis

You have to go back to 2006 and War Of Attrition for the last time that a horse won both the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Cheltenham equivalent. Every track poses a different challenge and Punchestown does have its quirks to put horses and jockeys off their stride.

For a start, the County Kildare track is left handed whereas Cheltenham is right handed. The trip at Punchestown is a little shorter and the horses don’t have to climb the stamina-sapping Cheltenham hill to get to the finishing post.

As well as the challenges of the course, there are some key stats to consider. Firstly, eight of the last 13 winners also contested the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Running at the previous year’s renewal hasn’t proven to be important but previous course form is a big plus. In terms of age, this is not a race for the older horses with no winner aged over 10.

Betting Tips

Sizing John sits at the top of the betting at a best price of evens with BetVictor. The seven year old has had a tough run for the majority of his career as he failed to get past the mighty Douvan time and time again. However, trainer Jessica Harrington never lost patience with him and decided to step him up to three miles instead. That decision has proven to be a masterstroke.

Sizing John heads to Punchestown looking for a Gold Cup triple having already won at both Leopardstown and Cheltenham. His huge win last time out has had a massive impact on his odds for Wednesday’s race but with previous course form and all the calibre required to outperform his competition he looks very much the one to beat.

If you’re looking for one to challenge Sizing John, try an each way bet on Outlander who is out at 10/1 with Betfair. The Gordon Elliot-trained nine year old could only watch on as Sizing John romped away with the win at Cheltenham but connections have long thought that he stood a better chance at Punchestown. Outlander has got the better of some of the most fancied horses in the field and if he races anywhere near his potential he should grab a place at least.

Boylesports Champion Chase (Punchestown) Preview & Betting Tips – Tuesday 25th April 2017

The four day Punchestown Festival gets underway this Tuesday and there is no race bigger on the opening day than the Boylesports Champion Chase. The two mile event always attracts some talented chasers, often including names that featured in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

With Grade 1 status and a large prize purse, this is a brilliant race to end the National Hunt season for the eight horses that have been declared for Tuesday’s race. It’s a race that has seen some top class winners over the years including Sizing Europe, Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded and Moscow Flyer.

Race Analysis

There’s been a fairly even spread of ages among recent winners but it’s worth noting that the last three who were 10 years or older had previously won the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

This is top class race and it takes horses with winning experience at this level to stand a real chance. All of the previous 10 winners of this race had won at least one Grade 1 chase prior and eight of them had won two or more

Along with Grade 1 success, horses ought to approach this race having enjoyed quite a successful season. Eight of the Champion Chase winners since 2007 had between two and four seasonal chase wins before adding another to their tally at Punchestown.

Betting Tips

Odds on favourite Un De Sceaux ticks a lot of boxes for this race. He’s collected three Grade 1 victories already this season and needs just one more winning run to finish the season unbeaten. On soft going it would be very hard to see anyone keeping up with the nine year old but the expected going is good at Punchestown which is not ideal.

A lack of recent two mile practice could hurt his chances too. The Ryanair Chase champion has competed around this distance just twice in the past 12 months. Willie Mullins’ horse should still be able to put in a good run but at odds of 5/6 (BetVictor), it’s perhaps best to swerve the favourite here.

Fox Norton couldn’t quite find enough to win Queen Mother Champion Chase, losing out by a head to Special Tiara. There were plenty of positives to take from the performance though and it’s one that helped propel him to a fine Grade 1 Melling Chase win earlier this month. It was a dominant showing by the seven year old who once again put in an assured display over the fences. He’s progressed well since moving stables in November and under the hands of Colin Tizzard, he looks good value to back for the win at 4/1 with Bet365.

There’s only been one winner priced higher than 9/1 this side of the millennium and God’s Own (6/1 with Ladbrokes) is the only other name trading shorter than this. He’s winless this season but not been hopelessly out of form either. The nine year old has put in two solid Grade 2 efforts and a very credible performance during the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase which saw him finish almost within touching distance of the Un De Sceaux.

He’s been tried at two and a half miles but a return to the minimum distance could well suit him. On his last attempt at two miles, only a bad mistake two fences out during the Queen Mother was enough to stop a promising looking charge. Without any mistakes this time, he’ll surely place if nothing else.