Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Horse racing predictions: Punchestown Festival Day 3

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The Punchestown Festival reaches the halfway point on Thursday as day three of five brings with it another brace of Grade 1 races, including the Champion Stayers Hurdle.

They races at the Co Kildare venue from 3.40-7.40pm, with the big race due off at 6.00, and we have race-by-race analysis of a card that also boasts a trio of Listed events.

Punchestown day three predictions 

Enda McElhinney’s picks for day three are below. Scroll down to read the expert analysis behind them. 

Odds, correct at time of publishing, may be subject to change.

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3.40 Specialist Group Handicap Hurdle (2m ½f)

A testing start for punters with 25 runners engaged over an extended two miles. Cases can be made for plenty, including WALHAAN for Ciaran Murphy and rider Eoin Walsh. Winner of a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown last March, Walhaan has run well in novice/handicap company this term on ground that was probably softer than optimal, including a close fourth over track and trip in November from just 2lb lower. He’s fit from the Flat and much respected back here on a faster surface.

Selection: Walhaan @ SP with BetMGM

4.15 Frontline Security Handicap Chase (Listed, 2m)

A 2m 4f winner at Naas in December on his chasing bow, BLOOD DESTINY has clashed with Spillane’s Tower three times since. He beat Jimmy Mangan’s charge over this trip at Navan in March, but either side of that was second behind him over 2m 3½f at this venue and third in the Grade 1 WillowWarm Gold Cup won by Spillane’s Tower at Fairyhouse in March.

That form is handsome on reflection and the drop back in trip is another positive. This is the quickest surface he will have raced on, which could be another plus, and he’s a big player for the champion trainer now he tackles a handicap.

Selection: Blood Destiny @ 3/1 with BetMGM

4.50 Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase (4m 1f)

Another of the famous Punchestown contests over the banks, this trip will take some getting. Classy sorts Coko Beach and Stumptown are contenders but STREETS OF DOYEN is having just his second start back with former trainer John McConnell and, having unseated his rider early on in the Ulster National last weekend, could have something to say at a decent price if he takes to this unique course given that stamina has always been a trait.

Selection: Streets Of Doyen @ SP with BetMGM

5.25 Barberstown Castle Novice Chase (Grade 1, 2m ½f)

Willie Mullins accounts for three of the four-runner field and those opposing GAELIC WARRIOR don’t make much appeal. The selection was imperious in winning the Arkle at Cheltenham, banishing all memory of his listless Dublin Racing Festival flop. Stablemate Il Etait Temps was 13 lengths behind in third at Cheltenham and has since won an Aintree Grade 1. He’s the one to follow the jolly home.

Selection: Gaelic Warrior @ 2/7 with BetMGM

6.00 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

There is a slight query about TEAHUPOO as the majority of his wins have come on soft or heavy going but he has excellent credentials aside. He was too good in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and, at seven, is seemingly a better horse than the one that finished third this last year. The likely winner is well clear on ratings and finding something to take him on with isn’t straightforward.

Selection: Teahupoo @ 4/5 with BetMGM

6.35 Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle (Listed, 2m 7½f)

KILBEG KING was narrowly denied in a Grade 2 novice chase over a similar trip at Ascot in February before failing to see out 3m 6f in the National Hunt Cup at Cheltenham. He was a little below his best at Aintree since but is rated significantly lower back over the smaller obstacles and the Anthony Honeyball-trained UK raider could be good enough to export this prize for the second year running.

Selection: Kilbeg King @ 11/1 with BetMGM

7.05 Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle (Listed, 2m ½f)

An easy winner on her hurdles bow in January at Fairyhouse (2m 4f, heavy), SPINDLEBERRY, trained by Willie Mullins, took a step forward when chasing home stablemate Jade De Grugy in the Grade 1 Mares’ Novice Hurdle back there on Easter Sunday. That is the standout piece of form here, while the fact she is dropped in trip and grade means she may prove too good under Paul Townend.

Selection: Spindleberry @ 4/6 with BetMGM

7.40 JP & M Doyle Flat Race (2m ½f)

PORT JOULAIN justified significant market support on his Rules debut at Gowran Park in March, putting away his main market rival Good N’ Kind despite conceding plenty of weight to Henry De Bromhead’s charge. They were a long way clear of everything else, and this £300,000 purchase can mark himself down as one with a bright future by landing a contest Ballyburn won 12 months ago.

Selection: Port Joulain @ SP with BetMGM

Looking for more horse racing picks for today’s action?

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