Racing Post journalist David Jennings gives us his selections for the first day of the Punchestown 2017 Festival. Stay reading each day for the latest tips from David.
3.40 – KILDARE HUNT CLUB FR SEAN BREEN MEMORIAL CHASE (FOR THE LADIES PERPETUAL CUP)
The curtain-raiser is as tricky as ever and the veteran Enniskillen looks the most solid option. The booking of Jamie Codd catches the eye and presumably this has been his aim all season. Enda Bolger does not have a particularly strong hand, although it would come as little surprise to see Equal Status step up on his tame Downpatrick effort. Treo Eile has been in top form in points and ought to be around at the business end.
1 Enniskillen 2 Equal Status 3 Treo Eile
4.20 – HERALD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE (GRADE 1)
Will he or won’t he? Labaik’s problems at the start have been one of the big talking points of the season so far but he showed what he is made of when he is on his best behaviour at Cheltenham when scooting clear of Melon in the Supreme. The pair renew rivalry here and I suspect the result might be the same if Labaik does consent to take part. Expect an improved showing from Bunk Off Early for whom nothing went right in the aforementioned Supreme.
1 Labaik 2 Melon 3 Bunk Off Early
4.55 – KILLASHEE HANDICAP HURDLE (GRADE B)
A surprising small turnout for such a valuable handicap hurdle and it could be worth chancing Western Boy. Pat Fahy’s charge is returning from a lengthy absence but might well have won this event 12 months ago had he not come down at the second-last and he looks potentially well-treated off a mark of 129. Remember, he gave Vautour a mighty fright at the track during his novice season. Veinard is rock-solid and should go close but finds winning an arduous task, while Clara Sorrento is one that could go well at a huge price.
1 Western Boy 2 Veinard 3 Clara Sorrento
5.30 – BOYLESPORTS CHAMPION CHASE (GRADE 1)
Although the trip and the ground are not ideal, Un De Sceaux can still outclass his rivals. The impressive Ryanair winner drops back down to two miles but he seems more manageable these days and there should be enough cut in the ground for him to show his true colours. He is unbeaten this term and can sign off for the season on a winning note. Fox Norton might find this trip on the short side so it would come as little surprise if Grand Annual winner Rock The World was the one to chase the selection home. He had a wind operation for his Cheltenham triumph and looked a reformed character there.
1 Un De Sceaux 2 Rock The World 3 Fox Norton
6.05 – GOFFS LAND ROVER BUMPER
Gordon Elliott presumably had plenty to choose from for this valuable bumper, which could have a major say in the trainers’ title race, and the chosen one is Rapid Escape. He looked the part when scooting clear to win a Tinahely point in February under Jamie Codd and could prove to be well above-average. Early Doors could not have done much more when winning on debut and the fact that Patrick Mullins partners him instead of his father’s Hollowgraphic speaks volumes. Stacks Mountain could be interesting for each-way backers.
1 Rapid Escape 2 Early Doors 3 Stacks Mountain
6.40 – GROWISE CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE (GRADE 1)
Disko is the form horse here and a repeat of his Grade 1 win over Irish Grand National winner Our Duke would be good enough to land the spoils here. However, he has had some bruising battles this season and it could pay to side with the fresher Anibale Fly instead. He was an impressive winner of a hot handicap hurdle at this meeting last year and his Drinmore second to Coney Island is strong form. He has skipped Cheltenham, Aintree and Fairyhouse for this and it could be his big day. Acapella Bourgeois could not sustain his strong early gallop in the RSA and it will be fascinating to see how he copes with ground conditions today.
1 Anibale Fly 2 Disko 3 Acapella Bourgeois
7.15 – DOOLEY INSURANCES FLAT RACE
Experience could prove paramount here and Stooshie is put forward to make it third time lucky. He took a big step forward to take second behind a Joseph O’Brien-trained newcomer at Limerick in March and he is certainly on an upward curve. It could be a big winner for Jamie Codd in his quest to become champion amateur. The Phillip Hobbs-trained Musical Slave is an intriguing newcomer for whom market support should be taken very seriously, while Texie Rexi for the in-form Jessica Harrington stable is another newcomer to consider.
1 Stooshie 2 Musical Slave 3 Texie Rexie
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