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Champion Four Year Old Hurdle preview

Punchestown week is just about done and dusted, but at least they've now moved some better races to make Saturday's card worth attending. Prolific previewer Chris Day, @chrisday100, with the analysis.

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Champion Four Year Old Hurdle
Punchestown 1625 local
Two miles, Group 1, €100,000


Betting at the end of season festival at Punchestown should come with a wealth warning. The best analogy I can give is it’s like the last night of an 80s two week Mediterranean holiday with your mates, the first night, Cheltenham, you’re at your best, new clothes, clear head and no bruises from earlier skirmishes (hopefully with the opposite sex) but you’ve now reached the end of a hard fortnight and up for a last night bearing a few knocks and possibly not at your best (although you never know until 1.50 AM when the DJ reaches for the music for the slow dances).

In racing terms, that’s jumping the last with whips up and hoping the horse you’ll back will find for pressure and ease away to leave a debit on the account.

The 4.25 at Punchestown is the Grade 1 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, noticeably lacking in any of the Cheltenham principals from our Triumph but nonetheless a useful event in its own right.

We might as well start with Willie Mullins’ Petite Parisienne, a filly who could emerge as the pretender to Quevega’s mares’ throne and might do best of his runners in receipt of her 7lbs allowance. Fifth in a strong Cheltenham race, she appeared to be beaten fair and square by Bitofapuzzle at Fairyhouse over further and I feel she has had a hard enough spring to overlook her here.

Ruby Walsh rides Buiseness Sivola, down the field in the Fred Winter before winning a Fairyhouse Grade 3 over Easter but I’m not really sure his form stacks up here.

Fiscal Focus is very tough to evaluate as he beat the then Triumph favourite, Kalkir, at Leopardstown in a Grade 2 over Christmas, form which doesn’t really stand up, before finishing where he should have on his next run in the Irish Champion Hurdle behind Hurricane Fly.

Alan King saddles Pain Au Chocolat, a horse he rates highly but who could finish only twelfth in The Triumph after a couple of minor victories and it’s not easy to see him being good enough to take this prize and Jonjo sends over Matorico for JP, presumably a horse they like who finished just ahead of King’s runner at Cheltenham on only his second ever run over hurdles.

Stars Over The Sea possibly brings the best actual form to the table here, beaten just five lengths in the Aintree Grade 1 after finishing seventh at Cheltenham but the horse who won at Liverpool had run down the field in the Fred Winter and I have a feeling that’s where the winner will come from.

Simply put, to win a Cheltenham Festival handicap you need tonnes in hand and All Yours, victorious in the aforementioned Aintree race had run a very solid fifth in the Fred Winter giving 6lbs to the winner, Qualando, making the two of them roughly the same horse. Trainer Paul Nichools saddles his only runner of Punchestown here and he already looks good enough to take this race before presumably going onto far loftier targets next season and I make him the nap of the weekend at prices around 7-2.

If forecasts are your thing I’d put Fiscal Focus in for second and fancy Stars Over The Sea to follow them home.

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Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes
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Villiers StakesRandwick, G2, 1600m
1615 local time, 0515 GMT

Form link

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking


The most reliable guide to the Gr2 Villiers has always been the Festival Stakes.

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1 I'm Imposing (55.5) 20-1
2 [0.1] Estonian Princess (54) 7-1
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5 [1.7] Sir Moments (56) 11-2
6 [2.5] Multilateral (54) 60-1
7 [3.8] Scream Machine (56) 20-1
8 [4.3] Aomen (58.5) 30-1
11 [6.8] Monton (60) 16-1
12 [8.0] Keep Cool (54) 80-1

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