The National Hunt festival at Punchestown continues on Wednesday with three Grade 1 events on another top quality card.
The 4.55 race is a novice hurdle over three miles with the Willie Mullins-trained Shaneshill stepping up in trip from two and a half. He had enough speed to chase home the impressive Douvan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and that horse underlined the form with a dominant display here on Tuesday.
Shaneshill was barely out of a hack canter to win at Fairyhouse last time out and he races as though the trip will suit him. The Albert Bartlett looked like a real slog at Prestbury Park and third home No More Heroes represents the form here. I just wonder if that hard race may have taken its toll while Mullins also saddles festival winner Killultagh Vic under Paul Townend. Thistlecrack is over from the UK after winning gamely at Aintree but Shaneshill may have too much class for him.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup form comes under scrutiny in the Punchestown equivalent at 5.30. I tipped Djakadam at 16-1 for Cheltenham and he ran a mighty race in second, not quite having enough to peg back all-the-way winner Coneygree. He had previously sluiced through the mud to win at Gowran Park and any further rain will help his prospects here.
Road To Riches was not far behind him at Cheltenham and is entitled to respect, as is easy Liverpool winner Don Cossack. He won by an impressive 26 lengths at Aintree but the race was marred by the fatal fall of Balder Succes. Ballynagour stuck to his guns when closing to within a head of Silviniaco Conti at Aintree but this is a more testing track and his best form is at two and a half miles.
The third and final Grade 1 of the day is the Champion Bumper at 6.05. Several of these ran in the Cheltenham bumper with Modus faring best in second. That was a tremendous run but I am convinced that Supasundae will be better if he can be restrained in the early stages. He eventually finished sixth after being up with the pace for a long way and could be a decent bet in a tricky contest. As usual, Willie Mullins is mob-handed with five runners with Bellshill probably his best chance.
Shaneshill 4.55 @@7-4 William Hill
Djakadam 5.30 @11-4 William Hill
Supasundae 6.05 @12-1 Ladbrokes
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