IF getting stuck into short prices is not your thing then betting with the Tote will come to your rescue on the opening day of the Punchestown festival.
Yorkhill, Vautour and Jenkins are all likely to go off odds-on so that brings the various different Tote bets into play and the most appealing of those is doing a Tote Exacta with Yorkhill and Petit Mouchoir in the Herald Champion Novice Hurlde (4.20).
Yorkhill burst the bubble of Yanworth in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and has since followed up at Aintree, despite failing to settle for Paul Townend and giving him a torrid time. He looks to be blessed with lots of natural speed so dropping down to 2m should prove more of a help than a hindrance.
Petit Mouchoir, on the whole, has been disappointing this season. However, there are two pieces of form which make him stand out head and shoulders above the rest as the main danger to Yorkhill. He was a close-up third in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle despite been locked up under Jaques Riqou for most of the home straight and bettered that by making Buveur D’Air pull out all the stops at Aintree.
A repeat of that latest performance should see him follow home Yorkhill and the Tote Exacta ought to pay 5-2 or bigger.
A Tote Exacta could also be a shrewd play in the BoyleSports Champion Chase (5.30) with the talented, but fragile, Simonsig fancied to follow Vautour home.
From a punting perspective, the most appealing race of the evening is the Growise Champion Novice Chase (6.40) and British raider Henryville ticks all the boxes.
The fact that he was able to get some close to Irish Cavalier on only his second start over fences at Newton Abbot earlier in the season stamped him down as a potential chasing star and he has since disposed of Golden Doyen and Thomas Crapper with the minimum of fuss at Exeter.
Harry Fry has kept him fresh for this, even swerving a glorious opportunity at Ayr, and he will get the generous gallop he craves. Expect Noel Fehily to show his hand last, but there could be a couple of aces up his sleeve. So many of the field have had tough campaigns but Henryville is the exception and that freshness could prove paramount.
The Killashee Handicap Hurdle (4.55) looks wide open and it could be worth chancing both Art Of Payroll and, at a massive price, Western Boy.
Art Of Payroll has been crying out for quicker ground and Sandra Hughes will get her wish today. His latest effort at Fairyhouse should leave him cherry ripe for today and he ought to be in the thick of things.
I’ve long been of the opinion that Western Boy is one of the best handicapped hurdlers in training and returning to Punchestown, the scene of his best ever performance when giving Vautour a mighty scare as a novice, could see him finally show what he is really made of. He doesn’t deserve to be the price he is today and hopefully his jumping will be more fluent today than it was at Fairyhouse.
She won the race 12 months ago and is the choice of Nina Carberry over Strandford Lough. The ground has come in her favour and she will prove a tough nut to crack.
TOTAL COST OF BETS: €100