The Boylesports Champion Chase (Tuesday 5.30) looks set to provide a brilliant highlight to the opening this year’s Punchestown Festival, which will hopefully set the precedent for what is traditionally one of the best 6 days of racing on the calendar.
The likes of Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and Sizing Europe have won the race in the last decade, whilst Master Minded winning at the tender age of 6, and Sizing Europe raising the roof off the stands when he won the race for a second time at the age of 12.
Willie Mullins and Henry De Bromhead have both trained two winners in the last decade, whilst Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty have both ridden two winners in that time.
8 runners are set to go to post this year.
Baily Green 100/1
Having trained the winners of the Grand National and Irish National in the last few weeks, Mouse Morris will be expecting a big run from his likely outsider. He has been poor so far this season, but was second in the race last year, and could sneak into the frame at a big price if there’s a faller or two.
Won a decent novice event at Aintree in 2015, but could only manage an 11-length third to God’s Own this year, and will have to find plenty to be winning this.
It was brilliant to see him return from injury to claim a grade-1 this year, be it a substandard one, but he will probably find the ground far too quick for him here.
God’s Own 10/1
First hit the headlines when winning the novice chase by 5-lengths here in 2014, and has since finished placed at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in 2015 and 2016, winning the Melling Chase when long odds-on favourite Vautour fell. Looks sure to go well.
Nicky Henderson throws a complete spanner in the works by saddling a potential superstar who hasn’t won since 2013, and has had just one run since. Always been a strong traveller, and it’s possible he’ll have one last hurrah.
Special Tiara 6/1
Loves to front run, and it will be interesting to see if he can lead Vautour or at least get him out of his rhythm. Obvious form chance, and is the one horse that’s always been campaigned as a two-miler. Goes well right-handed.
Plenty of course form, but not up to this level.
Connections are still unsure what his best trip is, but had the speed to win a Supreme Novices Hurdle. Wouldn’t want to be taking long odds-on about him though after falling at Aintree, especially with challengers for the lead at this shorter trip.
Hopefully the 8 runners will all stand their ground and, if that’s the case, Special Tiara looks a solid each-way alternative to Vautour.