Punchestown Festival: Key clashes at the Irish meeting

Written by Bob Rogers
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The five-day Punchestown Festival is next week, and excitement is rife for what is dubbed Ireland’s very own version of Cheltenham.

The best horses the Emerald Isles has to offer will be on show for all to see for the final time this season, sending the Betdaq horse racing betting markets into overdrive as punters search for a winner.

It's a fantastic way to sign off a thrilling National Hunt racing season, and while jump fans have been left disappointed following the news that Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Constitution Hill won’t be making the trip across the Irish Sea to take on the unbeaten Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, there are still plenty of other big clashes to look forward to.

That said, with just days until racegoers are welcomed back to Punchestown for the first time since 2019, let’s take a look at some of the key battles in the meeting’s big feature races. Read on to find out more!

Champion Chase: Energumene vs Chacun Pour Soi

At last month’s renewal of the Cheltenham Festival, Energumene managed to pull off the feat Chacun Pour Soi and many other Willie Mullins-trained horses have tried and failed to do in the past — win the Irish handler his maiden Queen Mother Champion Chase.

It wasn’t the spectacle we all expected with Shishkin being pulled up by Nico de Boinville, allowing Energumene to breeze home. Chacun Pour Soi unseated Patrick Mullins when going well in that race, but it will take a special run from the Rich Ricci-owned 10-year-old if he is to get the better of Energumene at Punchestown — hence the Queen Mother champion’s heavy backing in the horse racing tips.

Punchestown Gold Cup: Allaho vs Clan Des Obeaux

There’s no question about it, Allaho has been another shining light in the chasing division — winning all three of his outings this season, including the Grade 1 Punchestown Chase, the Grade 2 Hotel & Jockey Hotel Chase and impressively defending his Ryanair Chase title at Cheltenham.

The Punchestown Gold Cup will be a real test of the Cheveley Park Stud-owned horses’ mettle though, as questions will be asked of Allaho’s ability to stay the lengthy three-mile, half-a-furlong trip.

The eight-year-old has won just once in five attempts over three miles, while Clan Des Obeaux rolled back the years with an impressive victory in the Bowl at the Grand National Festival. Certainly, one to watch!

Champion Novice Chase: Bob Olinger vs Capodanno

Another horse who is going to be tested before the curtain is drawn on their season, Gold Cup-winning trainer Henry de Bromhead has confirmed that he is stepping Bob Olinger up in a trip to three miles for the first time in Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase on the opening day of the festival.

Three for three since being switched to chasing this season, the seven-year-old was far from his best despite winning the Turner Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham — capitalising on Galopin Des Champs’ agonising fall at the last. A torn muscle meant he was off the pace that day, but this three-mile, half a furlong trip will be a test of his Gold Cup credentials.

Mullins’ Capodanno also swapped hurdles for fences this season, but hasn’t been as impressive as Bob — winning on debut in a Beginners Chase before finishing second to De Bromhead’s horse at Punchestown and unseating his rider at Leopardstown. What he is does have is experience staying three miles, and that could be the difference in his second battle with Bob Olinger.

 

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Read 189 times Last modified on Sunday, 24 April 2022 15:10
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Bob Rogers

Bob Rogers

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