PUNCHETOWN DAY TWO PREVIEW
The Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30) is very interesting, with this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John taking on the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree.
Coneygree ran a nice comeback race at Haydock in November when he finished second to Cue Card, but Cue Card hasn’t really franked the form since, he was well beaten by Thistlecrack in the King George, and he has been beaten at Cheltenham and at Aintree. And Coneygree hasn’t run since then. It is going to be a big ask for him to beat Sizing John.
Sizing John was great at Cheltenham. He travelled great for Puppy and he saw the trip out strongly. He is a horse on the up, he is only seven, and he stands alone here for me.
Djakadam could be a bigger danger to Sizing John than Coneygree is. I beat him in this race last year on Carlingford Lough, but he had run at Cheltenham and at Aintree last year. He has skipped Aintree this year, and that could count in his favour.
That said, Sizing John beat him fair and square at Cheltenham, and it is difficult to see Djakadam getting his revenge.
Bon Papa would have been my ride in the Grade 1 Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (4.20), and he wouldn’t be without a chance. He was disappointing in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he was nicely progressive before that.
He won his bumper at Fairyhouse in December and he was travelling well for me at Cork in January when we came down at the third last. Then he won his maiden hurdle at Gowran at the end of January.
Willie has always held him in high regard, so hopefully he can run well.
It is a good race. Penhill and Monalee finished first and second in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and Champagne Classic won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
But Presenting Percy is probably the one that they all have to beat. He has progressed nicely this season, and he put up a big performance for a novice to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. He is the highest rated horse in the race and he sets the standard.
Minella Till Dawn has a good chance in the Louis Fitzgerald Hurdle (4.20). I haven’t ridden him in a race yet, but he kept on well to win his maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, and he was right there with a chance against Al Boum Photo at Fairyhouse last time when he fell.
He is a chaser in the making, but he is nicely progressive over hurdles and, as long as that fall hasn’t affected his confidence, he should run well.
The Guinness Handicap Chase (6.40) is highly competitive, but People’s Park has a chance. He stayed on well to win his beginners’ chase over two miles at Fairyhouse in December and then, after not getting home over three miles in the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas, he finished fifth behind Ball D’Arc in the Dan Moore Chase back at Fairyhouse back over two miles.
He was pulled up at Naas last time, but that was on heavy ground. He was only just beaten in a beginners’ chase in December 2015 on his only run at Punchestown and, back on good ground and over this two and a half miles, he could run well.