Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday's Festival fancies at Punchestown

Three winners on Wednesday, but normal service resumed earlier today with Duc De Regniere failing to get competitive in fifth behind Fiveforthree, Forpadydeplasterer well and truly beaten into second by Barker but a decent enough show from Silver Birch who lead from five out until approaching the last where the Nina Carberry ridden Garde Champetre (13/8f) went on to win.

Friday at this year's Festival is May Day, Rabobank Day and Ladies' Day all rolled into one. The feature, due off at 5.30, is the Rabobank Champion Hurdle with nine set to face the starter. Champion hurdler Punjabi did this blog a big favour when hanging on to win the big prize at Cheltenham just over seven weeks ago; on official ratings he has something in hand over all his rivals here and trainer Nicky Henderson seems reasonably optimistic but the worry is we don't quite know how much that last run took out of the horse. Willie Mullins, who had a four-timer this afternoon, runs Quevaga - his mare was seriously impressive when destroying her field in the David Nicholson at Cheltenham over half a mile further. The drop back in trip isn't certain to suit but the going, currently described as soft to heavy, will help. Punjabi wouldn't need to be that much off his game to give Solwhit a leading chance while Muirhead was just over five lengths behind Punjabi at Cheltenham in fifth place. There are no certainties here but in my mind this is between Punjabi and Solwhit and I'm going to stick with Nicky Henderson's charge. This evening Paddy Power bet 2/1 Quevega, 3/1 Punjabi; I'm happy to take 3/1 (or bigger) the current champion hurdler and note that the favourite has only won one of the last ten renewals.

When I saw Mikhael d'haqunet in the paddock before the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham I thought he looked a decent prospect. The manner in which he won confirmed that and he has to be the selection for the 6.05.

By the way, this is the 500th blog post - it would be good to celebrate with a winner, wouldn't it? ;-)

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