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punchestown festival day one 25/04/2023 preview suggested bets sport-preview

Punchestown Festival Day One – 25/04/2023 – Preview & Suggested Bets

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Selections

Punchestown, Tuesday 25th April

4:15 KPMG Champion Novice hurdle (Grade 1)

Facile Vega sets the bar high after his 2 nd placed finish in the Supreme last time. In the absence of his Cheltenham conqueror Marine Nationale, this looks a great opportunity for him, but at prohibitive odds there are reasons to take him on.

A combination of the drying ground, a small field and no obvious pace to track probably means that Paul Townend will have to make his own running here. He may well do so, but there is a good chance that his stablemate DIVERGE could close the gap and he represents some decent each-way value here. He was a smart horse on the Flat in France for Freddy Head and built on a course and distance win in January when he finished 3 rd in the Supreme. That was just his 3 rd start over hurdles and he should continue to improve.

After a light campaign, he could be capable of matching his more illustrious stablemate and if this race does develop into a sprint, his experience on the Flat could be crucial.

4:50 Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)

This race is wide open and the unexposed types, namely Tekao and Bialystok may well prove too good for this field. However, this is a competitive race, and they may find the rough and tumble of a festival handicap a taxing experience, as Tekao did at Cheltenham.

CASH BACK is perhaps not the horse that he once promised to be, but he has held his form reasonably well this season without getting his head in front.

He has bumped into Echoes in Rain and the highly promising Mister Policeman in recent starts and although he was no match for his stablemate at Cork last time, he was clear of the rest, including the reopposing Fils D’oudaries and his front running style could help to keep him out of trouble here.

5:25 William Hill Champion Chase (Grade 1)

Cheltenham hero Energumene is unopposable on these terms and anything other than a facile success for Willie Mullins charge will come as a huge shock.

The race for 2 nd place is slightly more interesting, but with Blue Lord seemingly out of form and Chacun Pour Soi and Gentleman de Mee hard to predict, there may be some juice in backing REBEL GOLD for the forecast. Pat Foley’s 10-year-old has continually improved this season and dug deep to win at Naas in February when last seen.

He arrives here fresher than most of his rivals and that could give him the edge to hit the frame.

6:35 – Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase

JOURNEY WITH ME did not need to improve to win last time at Naas in a race that fell apart, but he was just half-a-length behind subsequent Mares Chase winner Impervious at Punchestown in January and that looks to be the most reliable piece of form on offer.

The form of the De Bromhead yard is a slight concern, but Journey with Me has held his form all season despite his stable’s ups and downs and this Point winner looks sure to appreciate the step up to 3-miles.

He is the solid option in a race full of horses who have tried and failed at this level.

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