Monthly Archives: April 2009

Punchestown Irish Champion Hurdle

5.30 Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Ahh a touch of romance in the air for me… Punjabi was the biggest win of my punting career when he went in at Cheltenham to be the 2009 Champion Hurdler.

I had fancied him since his third the previous year was followed up by some decent flat wins and a WBX million path to Cheltenham.  I strengthened my ante-post bets when he went in the first leg.  At this point he was trading at his shortest but still 16s.  After falling while battling at Kempton in the second leg, his price drifted again and I had the luck of matching at prices from 18 to 42.  The champion hurdle bought out the best in him and my heart was in my mouth as I saw him battle on up the hill just holding off Celestial Halo and Binocular… fantastic story and my most successful and first four figure win.

He reappears to defend the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and should I do anything but back him… let’s see.






















Sizing Europe



Won In The Dark



Hardy Eustace






Let’s see who I am putting lines through…  Ebayzian – His third last year reads OK but subsequent poor displays… Returning to its best would not be good enough.

Muirheads fifth in the Champion Hurdle is as good as it has run since its last wins in 2007.  While it will enjoy conditions, it is not good enough in my view to win, place opportunity.

Last year’s win for Punjabi was against the grain a little bit.  This race normally goes to an Irish trained 7 or 8 year old so the 5 year old Henderson raider was a touch against trends.

This year some very new promising 5 year olds turn up in Solwhit and Quevega.

The mare Quevega won well at Cheltenham in the Mares Hurdle and goes off favourite here.  The price shortened after the Mullins / Walsh double on Thursday.  The 14 length defeat dished out to United at Cheltenham looked strong.  7 wins from 12 starts 3 from 3 for Ruby goes on every surface it seems…. strong chances with a useful 5lb mare allowance.

Solwhits form was franked strongly again by fiveforthree who was half a length behind him at Aintree.  A winner on his sole Punchestown run, we will find out how good this 5 year old is and whether he is a champion hurdle prospect.

Brave Inca was assessed correctly as unlikely to show a blaze of glory yesterday and his old rival Hardy Eustace turns up in this.  This season has easily been the 12 year olds worst, unlikely the old warrior has the legs for this.

Punjabi needs regular racing and the 7/8 weeks since Cheltenham may be a bit of a break for him.  Ground holds no fear and if you want one to fight out a finish then this is your horse.  However, Punjabi does not look like a superstar winner of the Champion despite holding the Irish crown already.  He is a class horse but I wonder whether a fresher lightly raced improver might be the downfall.

Jered’s earlier career form was very strong but recently he has been put in his place by this level of opposition.  As a novice he won a grade one at Punchestown but seems to have lost his way.  Difficult to see a return to form, even with the champion jockey up top, too much water under the bridge.

Won in the Dark has been an up and down horse and perhaps does not deserve to be the complete outsider.  Some decent form including a Punchestown grade one and a decent show, probably the horses best, against Sublimity in December(who Punjabi only just beat at the start of the year) – It goes very well with the services of this jockey and the main concern would be the cut in the ground – Not without a place hope.

Sizing Europe was my idea of the Champion hurdle winner in 2008 but disappointed me and many others on the day.  The two subsequent runs this year have been shockers given what went before.  Maybe chasing will bring back hopes of the big team for this horse but this is a horse who has handed out good beatings to Osana and Big Zeb in the past – won’t mind the ground.  Can you ignore two horror runs and find a reason for it to return to former glory…

This is a really interesting race to decipher.  On trends you would ignore the head of the field and look for a return to form of Sizing Europe, I cannot have Brave Inca, Jered, Ebayzian or Muirhead (13/2).

Won in the Dark would be a great price but the ground goes against and with another dose of water expected overnight there will be no easing.

Then there are the two up and coming stars versus the current champ.  This is tough.  Quevega gets a mares allowance and the Mullins / Walsh team are read hot and she is lightly raced on the ground the 5lbs allowance will be useful… mmm.  Solwhit could be anything, we know he is good but how good was the defeat of fiveforthree?  Well we have to start decision making and so on the grounds that the form line through United and the fact that the Aintree race was probably on the sharp side for fiveforthree, ruled out.

Then it is a call between Punjabi and Quevega…… difficult.  Why do I still feel negative about Punjabi?  Like many I don’t think he is the best champion hurdler but what else does this horse have to do to prove itself?  Maybe because it doesn’t look a superstar being a bit pint sized and those white socks but it is an all heart horse and shows the qualities of Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca… still I feel it might not be its day maybe because and this is thin, I can’t see much pace and I think Punjabi needs that, I think he is best in the heat of tough battle cracking others rather than in a tactical affair (Having said that this horse probably has the best flat form on offer too so turn of foot maybe not the issue)

On balance the form team have a hot prospect that gets a useful 5lbs and is lightly raced.  Quevega is good enough for me.  Saddled with the weight of my cash, I would still cheer Punjabi till hoarse if he were able to repel showing the value of determination.

Advice: Quevega £20 win.  Good luck Punjabi.  What a puzzle.

End of April – Good news on two fronts

Horse Track Race Type Bet Stake Price Winnings Result Running Total
American Trilogy Sandown 1.30 Hurdles Win £30.00 1.98 £0.00 LOST -£71.00
Kawagino Sandown 2.05 Hurdles Place £2.00 4.8 £0.00 LOST -£73.00
Kawagino Sandown 2.05 Hurdles Win £2.00 26 £0.00 LOST -£75.00
Tasheba Sandown 2.05 Hurdles Win £8.00 5 £0.00 LOST -£83.00
Hoo La Baloo Sandown 3.10 Chase Win £3.00 7.4 £0.00 LOST -£86.00
Hoo La Baloo Sandown 3.10 Chase Place £3.00 2.7 £0.00 LOST -£89.00
Zacharova Sandown 3.10 Chase Win £3.00 15 £0.00 LOST -£92.00
Zacharova Sandown 3.10 Chase Place £3.00 4.7 £0.00 LOST -£95.00
Hennessy Sandown 3.10 Chase Win £3.00 14 £42.00 WON -£53.00
Hennessy Sandown 3.10 Chase Place £3.00 3.9 £11.70 WON -£41.30
Tarten Bearer Sandown 4.15 Flat Win £15.00 2.5 £37.50 WON -£3.80
Halicarnassus Sandown 4.15 Flat Win £2.00 29 £0.00 LOST -£5.80
Halicarnassus Sandown 4.15 Flat Place £6.00 6.7 £0.00 LOST -£11.80
Capricorn Run Newcastle 4.20 Flat Win £10.00 15 £0.00 LOST -£21.80
Capricorn Run Newcastle 4.20 Flat Place £10.00 3.3 £0.00 LOST -£31.80
Barney McGrew Newcastle 4.20 Flat Win £7.50 6.7 £0.00 LOST -£39.30
Barney McGrew Newcastle 4.20 Flat Place £7.50 2.05 £0.00 LOST -£46.80
Imperial Commander Punchestown 6.05 Chase Win £12.00 5.6 £0.00 LOST -£58.80
Imperial Commander Punchestown 6.05 Chase Place £18.00 2.2 £0.00 LOST -£76.80
Fiveforthrree Punchestown 5.30 Hurdles Win £15.00 2.6 £39.00 WON -£37.80
Nicanor Punchestown 5.30 Hurdles Win £5.00 10 £0.00 LOST -£42.80
Nicanor Punchestown 5.30 Hurdles Place £5.00 2.6 £0.00 LOST -£47.80
Powerstation Punchestown 5.30 Hurdles Place £15.00 2.02 £15.00 WON -£32.80

Punchestown – 5.30pm Ladbrookes World Series Hurdle

The 5.30pm World series hurdle at Punchestown is the 3m grade 1 stayers hurdle at the festival.

The current betfair market looks like this:

  102.30% 319%
Horse Win Price Place Price
Fiveforthree 2.54 1.35
Powerstation 7.4 2.1
Fair Along 9.4 2.62
Duc De Regniere 25 5.3
Pettifour 26 5.3
Nicanor 10 2.58
Brave Inca 14.5 3.8
Whatuthink 9.8 2.96
Shakervilz 36 7
Footy Facts 95 13

Lets start with one we can rule out…

Nothing footy facts has ever done suggest he can be competitive in this, connections switching back to hurdles to rekindle some love for the game.. to be avoided. 

Powerstation is second favourite and probably showed his best form when third to Big Bucks in the Cheltenham festival world hurdle in March.  That is not bad form but there may be better lurking in the field.  Definitely a soft ground horse and 3m is without doubt the ideal trip but I am not sure it has the quality to win.  Probably a reliable benchmark for form and for me, place possibility only.

Brave Inca – What a reception the Inca would receive with champion jockey McCoy aboard.  These two look ideal for each other.  At 11, the Inca is not going to find much improvement but has shown form this year that suggests the spark remains, winning the Irish champion hurdle.  One thing is for certain, neither the horse or jockey is likely to go down without a fight.  This world hurdle has been won by relative veterans before.  I would be surprised to see it win though although the step up in trip at this time in the career is the best chance of more glory.  Place chances.

Fair Along – I think this horse is a Cheltenham specialist.  Having formerly been a front runner, different tactics have been tried and worked, notably beating Powerstation in a handicap (in receipt of 6lbs).  I have two strong suspicions about Fair Along though… firstly he is a better horse at Prestbury as seems clear and secondly, he is better fresh and early.  Noone seems to have mentioned that all of his career wins have been July to December.. line through for me.

Fiveforthree was a decent winner of the Ballymore at Cheltenham and has run well this season tried at decent prizes.  The horse has a massive advantage in that it is the only runner lighlty run this year.  Soft and Heavy wins in its form, potentially still open to improvement, a worthy favourite with the assistance of Ruby in the saddle.  The big question is whether he will handle the step up to 3m.  Ruby is confident and points to the breeding..

“Obviously it’s his first try at the trip but he is a half-brother to Celestial Gold, who won a Hennessy, so he is bred to get the trip and is in very good form.

The form suggests whatuthink whilst deserving a place in the line up, won’t be troubling the judge.  Soundly beaten by Powerstation I cannot see it reversing form which wouldn’t be good enough anyway.  The same applies to Shakervilz although the trainer is notorious for getting a surprising amount extra from a horse – If there was money for Shakervilz, it would be significant and a place bet would be advisable in that instance.

Petit Four is a decent type but looks held by Fair Along on form I think is below that required to win or place here.

Duc De Regniere has had enough runs this year but on best form could get involved – I am not sure he wont be past his best for this though.

That leaves me with Nicanor who I have left till the end.  This was the horse who beat Denman in his first trip to the festival, althouth Ruby conceded that it was more the tactics than the opposition which beat him on the day.  Since then injury has beset Nicanor and so it is doubtful we have seen the best from him.  Connections have been patient – Although 3 festivals ago, that Denman defeat was just 4 runs ago for Nicanor.  At 8, if fit, he could be about to play a role.  This seasons two runs haven’t exactly shown a superstar returning but Nicanor was not far behind Powerstation on the most recent.  The way he stayed on in both runs suggest 3m migh be a better trip.  Ground not an issue a gamble is taken that this one has more to give, will run well and signal that he is a player for next year.

Advice: Fiveforthree looks the likeliest winner and the market reflects it.  I am taking a win at 2.6 with £15 and then £5 win and place on Nicanor with a further £15 to place at 2.02 on Powerstation who is at least certain of the trip.

Feeling hard done by! Punchestown

Notre Pere was an impressive winner of the Guiness Gold Cup with Schindlers Hunt a staying on second.  The selection Imperial Commander didn’t look like getting the trip after travelling strongly though it must be said, the jumping was not as fluent as usual from the Commander, maybe a case of being over the top and stretched.

Could Imperial still be a Gold Cup horse?  Possibly but it would have to come back and win the Paddy Power in November off a likely top weight and perhaps go on and show us he is a stayer, perhaps at the King George.  Certainly connections think it is possible and although evidence so far 0-5 is that 3m+ trips do no suit.. I persoanlly would not give up just yet.

Punchestown Gold Cup – Analysis and Tips

Punchestown Guiness Gold Cup

Twelve are likely to go to post as I cannot imagine Cooldine being run after his exertions yesterday.  This looks a more open contest than normal (7 of 8 recent favourites have gone in at biggest price 7/4!) for the £150k prize.

Imperial Commander has posted some very smart performances at Cheltenham this year notably winning the Ryanair defeating the reliable yardstick of Voy por Ustedes who went on to win at Aintree.  You cannot say fairer than that when it comes to judging Imperial Commanders ability and clearly he is a big player.  I am not sure though that he takes regular racing that well and although he has not been seen since Cheltenham he has raced six times this season and may be a little over the top.  The other negative is the distance at which he is 0-4, I am not convinced the step up will suit and he has done his best at Cheltenham and may become a bit of a track specialist.  If he travelled well, gets the trip and is fit, he is a danger to all.

It doesn’t look like War of Attritions ground who for me would have to raise his game to beat a couple anyway, place prospects.

Airforceone does not look up to this company. The race rarely goes to a veteran and although Afistfullofdollars ran well on a sole appearance and is not out of place in the company, does not look likely a winner.

Gungadu looks hard to place – A genuine marathon runner, this looks a mile too short.  Paul Nicholls does not look likely to take this on his hat-trick shot with his sole runner.  Telling that Ruby feels a better chance on the Mullins horse.

Miko de Beauchene has not shown enough and improvement into the race seems unlikely.

Snowy Morning is a horse who in younger days showed plenty of ability travelling well up to Denman before falling in probably best show.  Frustrating that it hasn’t taken a decent prize at some point but looks short of first class.  Perhaps runs best at Punchestown and perhaps best at this time of year – Could run well without being a danger.

Schindlers Hunt is interesting stepping up in trip.  A useful third to the favourite at Cheltenham and ran Voy por Ustedes close at Aintree, clearly the horse has some ability.  However stepping up in trip may not be ideal for the horse, a bit of a wild card at the distance and 14/1 is an OK price.. place of interest.

 The horse Ruby elects to ride, Scotsirish, has won at Punchestown before.  On bare form he looks to have too much on his plate and looks a far worse 14/1 selection.

Air Force One would have to be excused two recent poor runs to enter equations.  However, the likely sole seven year old has shown decent form to Madison du Berlais and it wouldn’t be a shock to see some improvement.  However, on balance and against the opposition, this is one I oppose even for the place at 10/1.

Roll Along seems to hold no secrets and a repeat of the Gold Cup run would see it finish in the first half of the field.  Too much of a step forward required and overlooked.

Notre Pere is of high interest.  This looks like the ground for this consistent type.  The Welsh National win reads well as does the run against the consistent Neptune Collonges.  The horse looks to have a strong chance.

Advice: Market prefers Notre Pere and so the value is taken on Imperial Commander at 5.6 win and 2.2 place – Stakes £12 £18 respectively.  £3 reverse forecast also taken.