Punchestown Day 3 Tips
- Race 1 - Specialist Group Handicap Hurdle Tips
- Race 2 - Pigsback.com Handicap Chase Tips
- Race 3 - La Touche Cup Tips
- Race 4 - Champion Stayers' Hurdle Tips
- Race 5 - Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle Tips
- Race 6 - Barberstown Castle Novice Chase Tips
- Race 7 - Mares Handicap Chase Tips
- Race 8 - JP & M Doyle (C & G) Flat Race Tips
The middle card of the Punchestown Festival features two top-quality Grade One races. Along with the two feature contests, Thursday's viewers will take in several strong handicaps, a classy bumper and the popular La Touche Cup, run over the unique Banks course at Punchestown.
Punchestown Festival Day 3 Tips - Thursday 27th April
Race 1 - Specialist Group Handicap Hurdle Tips
Formerly trained on the flat by Richard Hannon, FASCINATING SHADOW (25/1) ran up to an RPR of 123 when beating a next-time-out winner on his hurdles debut at Cork last May.
Shark Hanlon has only run his five-year-old over hurdles twice since then, with Fascinating Shadow finishing down the field in the Sharp Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November and a distant fifth behind Tax For Max here at Punchestown two weeks later. Jody McGarvey's mount comes into this race on the back of a 132-day absence, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Fascinating Shadow run well off this opening mark of 116.
Race 2 - Pigsback.com Handicap Chase Tips
We've now got a cracking handicap chase to sink our teeth into and the one I like most at an each-way price is CALL ME LYREEN (16/1). Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old was beaten a short-head in a handicap hurdle at this meeting back in 2021 and returns to Punchestown on the back of a decent effort at the Cheltenham Festival.
Call Me Lyreen won twice over fences during a busy summer campaign, losing out by just a length to Visionarian in a Grade Three at Galway back in July. Elliott's charge was last seen finishing a creditable seventh in the Grand Annual - that run coming on unsuitably soft ground and on the back of a 154-day absence. Jordan Gainford's mount should have improved for that return to action and Call Me Lyreen could be a big player off this reduced mark of 140.
Race 3 - La Touche Cup Tips
Stealthy Tom and Vital Island are greatly respected, but I really fancy CLONGUILE WAY (12/1) will run well here for John McConnell.
Alex Harvey rode Clonguile Way in this race 12 months ago, where McConnell's ten-year-old struggled on his first outing around the Banks course and unseated his rider at the second-last. On the back of an excellent second in the Borders National at Kelso, Clonguile Way ran much better around this tricky track here in February, staying on to finish a good fourth behind Stealthy Tom.
Clonguile Way wasn't at his best at Kelso last time out, but returning to Punchestown will be a help and he's got the potential to challenge to market leaders.
Race 4 - Champion Stayers' Hurdle Tips
Race 5 - Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle Tips
A capacity field of 25 will contest this three-mile handicap. I'm going to back a couple at each-way prices, starting with one of the three British raiders in the market, KILBEG KING (14/1).
Anthony Honeyball's eight-year-old has won two novice hurdles so far this season, while also finished sixth in what's turned out to be a decent renewal of the Challow Hurdle. Kilbeg King was beaten a neck by a former Graded winner, On The Blind Side as he made his handicap debut at Newbury last month and the handicapper has only upped his mark by one pound for that excellent effort.
Fellow point-to-point winner LETS GO CHAMP (11/1) finally made his debut for Henry De Bromhead in January, some two-and-a-half years after his victory between the flags.
Rachael Blackmore's mount finished a decent third that day, before going down to a future Grade Two winner in Nick Rockett next time out at Naas. Lets Go Champ opened his account under rules with an emphatic victory over 20 furlongs at Tipperary nine days ago and this opening handicap mark of 125 could turn out to be lenient.
Race 6 - Barberstown Castle Novice Chase Tips
Just four will approach the starter ahead of Thursday's second Grade One. El Fabiolo is clearly the best horse in this race, but I'm not one to back favourites at such short prices.
Given that two of the other four entrants are keen-going, front-running sorts, a case can be made for SAINT ROI (7/1), who was narrowly beaten by Banbridge over a longer trip at Aintree two weeks ago and could relish this drop back to the minimum distance. Mark Walsh's mount has 12 lengths to find on El Fabiolo from their run in the Arkle, but strange things can happen at Punchestown and Saint Roi offers a decent amount of value.
Race 7 - Mares Handicap Chase Tips
With Rachael Blackmore riding the hat-trick-seeking Queen Jane, Mark Walsh reprises his partnership with the second Henry De Bromhead runner, SECRET SHE KEEPS (11/4).
De Bromhead's mare ran stablemate Amirite within a nose on her chasing debut at Fairyhouse in October, before cruising to an easy victory under Walsh at Thurles. Secret She Keeps hasn't been seen since a fourth-place finish in a handicap here at Punchestown in November, but she's clearly been laid out for this handicap and remains open to any amount of improvement.
Race 8 - JP & M Doyle (C & G) Flat Race Tips
Several experts, including Ruby Walsh, said in the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival that Willie Mullins was leaving his best bumper horse at home. Ballyburn - who's owner Ronnie Bartlett dislikes the Champion Bumper - made an excellent impression when winning here on his stable debut and Patrick Mullins' mount is the hot favourite to maintain his 100% record.
An interesting alternative is SLADE STEEL (9/2) who, like Ballyburn, is unbeaten in two starts. A winner between the flags last May, Henry De Bromhead's five-year-old beat two Willie Mullins runners a shade cosily at this venue in December. De Bromhead has saved Slade Steel for this assignment and he's booked A Dream To Share's partner, John Gleeson to take the ride once again.