TEMPLEGATE returns looking to land some winners on day four of Punchestown Festival.
Read on below to find out his top tips after Bob Olinger was dramatically ruled out of the Champion Novice Hurdle.
ALPHA MALE was second in the last running of this race and is best over this trip. He hasn’t been at his best in hunter chases this season but will have been trained for this. Rewritetherules found the Aintree Foxhunter too much last time and this should be more to his liking. Enniskillen is old enough to get married and slipped up here the other day. He’s run well in this race before.
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Willie Mullins has won this seven times since it was first run in 2007 and has another big chance with ASTERION FORLONGE. He has been running well at Grade 1 level and was a good third at Cheltenham before hitting the frame again at Fairyhouse. He likes this track and the longer trip is fine. Stablemate Antey made a costly error at Gowran latest but was still a good second and has place claims again. January Jets didn’t fire at Fairyhouse but it’s early days over fences and he can improve. Dostal Phil went close at Aintree is another to note.
AGUSTA GOLD was well backed before finishing midfield in the Irish Grand National last time. He was a Grade 3 winner at Fairyhouse over this trip last time and dropping in distance can help. Magic Of Light unseated early over the big fences at Aintree and has come down the weights a little. He won this in 2018 and has an each-way shout. Scarlet And Dove was a respectable fifth in the Fairyhouse Gold Cup after winning in this class at Limerick. Her rider takes off a handy 7lb in a tight contest.
HONEYSUCKLE was brilliant when winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham by more than six lengths. She got the better of main rivals Sharjah and Epatante and there’s no reason why the form will be turned around over the same trip. Sharjah has a Grade 1 win over course and distance to his name and looks a good bet for second. Abacadabras ran on strongly when scoring at Aintree and is another who goes well here. He’s had a busy season but should be right there again.
With no Bob Olinger, GAILLARD DU MESNIL can win this. The others have plenty to find but Ashdale Bob did well to score in a Fairyhouse Grade 2 and could have more to offer.
BILLAWAY was beaten on the nod for the Cheltenham version of this race and did well to finish fifth at Aintree when not enjoying the big fences. He sets the standard provided those races haven’t taken too much out of him. Caid Du Berlais has won the past two renewals of this and had a walk in the park when scoring at Warwick last time. He’s a big threat. Bob And Co unseated at Cheltenham but bounced back at Hexham latest and can make the places.
M C MULDOON was a good second in a Fairyhouse Grade 2 last time and should be too good on this drop in class. He likes this trip and should have more to come after just three hurdles runs. Keskonrisk was outclassed at Cheltenham on the back of a good Christmas effort at Leopardstown. This drop back in distance could suit. Grand Bornard didn’t get going last time when hampered after an easy novice win. He’s only five so should be capable of better.
GORTMILLISH showed lots of promise when second on debut at Tipperary last month. He should have learned from that and can improve under Jamie Codd. My Mate Mozzie was an expensive buy and Patrick Mullins is on board. He is bred to be classy and should know his job on debut. Bubbles In May has shown enough on two runs to suggest she could run into the places.
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