Two excellent Grade One races headlined the penultimate day of racing at the Punchestown Festival. Viewers will also take in a Grade Two Mares' Chase, as well as the Bishopscourt Cup and the Champion Hunters Chase, both of which are run over the unique Banks course at Punchestown.
Punchestown Festival Day 4 Tips - Friday 28th April
Race 1 - Bishopscourt Cup Tips
Younger horses have an excellent recent record in the Bishopscourt Cup, so I'm happy to side with HAPPY VICTORY (7/2). Gordon Elliott's six-year-old won back-to-back point-to-points at the start of the year, including an impressive win over the point course here at Punchestown. Harry Swan's mount hasn't been at his best in recent starts, but I'm hoping the return to Punchestown will spark a return to winning form.
Race 2 - EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase Tips
Three Willie Mullins runners top the weights for this handicap chase. Emmet Mullins' Feronily held off four of his uncle's novices to win a Grade One on day one and I wouldn't be surprised if his stablemate, SO SCOTTISH (4/1) did something similar on Friday.
Three victories and a fine second behind Boothill in a handicap at Ascot saw So Scottish installed as the early favourite for the Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. The ground went against Mullins' raider on the day, but So Scottish still ran a decent enough race to finish seventh and Mark Walsh's mount will be running off his lower Irish mark.
Race 3 - Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase Tips
I expected Allegorie De Vassy to beat IMPERVIOUS (10/11) when the two met in the Mares' Chase at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins' mare did everything right that day, only for Impervious to battle back on the run to the line and claim an impressive win. Allegorie De Vassy was then beaten by Instit at Fairyhouse, where she faded quickly after landing on top of the final flight and I'd be surprised if that race hasn't left its mark.
Despite some excellent performances earlier in the season, I underestimated Impervious at the Cheltenham Festival. I won't be doing the same on Friday. If she's in the same form that she's shown since switching the fences, then the favourite should take a whole heap of beating.
Race 4 - Punchestown Champion Hurdle Tips
Race 5 - Champion Novice Hurdle Tips
Another Cheltenham winner who looks well placed to follow up is IMPAIRE ET PASSE (1/3). Willie Mullins' star was all the rage in the betting prior to the Ballymore and Paul Townend's mount produced a superb performance to beat Gaelic Warrior and Champ Kiely by six easy lengths.
Gaelic Warrior has already given that form a boost this week and I don't see how Champ Kiely turns that tables on his stablemate. Impaire Et Passe should win again.
Race 6 - Champion Hunters Chase Tips
The top two from last year's contest, Billaway and Vaucelet will go toe-to-toe again. Annamix, who came home strongly from miles off the pace to beat Billaway at Fairyhouse, has to be respected. As does the classy Chris's Dream, who finished a creditable fifth at Cheltenham last time out.
I'm willing to take a chance on SNUGSBOROUGH HALL (12/1) - a previous handicap chase winner at this meeting. Liam Cusack's 12-year-old was still running to a good level under rules this time last year, placing third behind Royal Rendezvous at the Festival before repeating that placing behind Fire Attack here in May. Ross Berry rode Snugsborough Hall to an easy point-to-point victory 12 days ago and he'll take seven-pounds off his mount's back.
Race 7 - SalesSense International Novice Hurdle Tips
Sa Majeste is the unknown quantity in this race and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Willie Mullins' French recruit run well. I'd still rather side with the proven MONBEG PARK (9/4), who won a maiden here at Punchestown earlier in the season, placed third in a Grade Three at Cork and comes into this on the back of two solid efforts in handicap company.
Race 8 - Avison Young INH Flat Race Tips
21 runners may feature in Friday's card closer, but I'd be surprised if the winner didn't come from one of the top three in the betting. Lecky Watson ran a blinder when fourth in the Champion Bumper and he deservedly leads the betting. Irish Panther has shown he has plenty of ability in his two starts under rules and Edward O'Grady's star is greatly respected.
QUANTUM STORM (9/4) made a lovely impression on his debut under rules here at Punchestown, finishing a strong second behind the talented Ballyburn. Gordon Elliott's budding star finished comfortably ahead of Irish Panther that day and could have enough to see off Lecky Watson.