Punchestown Festival 2022 Day 2 Tips: Check out our best bets for Wednesday's racing

Clan Des Obeaux heads back to Punchestown for the Gold Cup
Clan Des Obeaux heads back to Punchestown for the Gold Cup

Day two of the Punchestown Festival comes our way on on Wednesday, and our man Billy Grimshaw has sifted through the card and chosen his strongest fancy in each race on what should be a gripping day of high class action over in Ireland...

15:40 Punchestown - Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle

There are a host of handicap debutants in this field but the one that has grabbed my attention is MIDNIGHT IT IS for Gavin Cromwell. Last seen running a career best race when winning at Limerick over two miles and three furlongs, he has been improving quietly all season and now dropping into handicap company and with jockey Kieren Buckley taking a further two pounds off, despite the fact he is top weight I think he can prove better than these and kick Day Two off to a flyer for Cromwell. He finished second in a bumper over this course and distance in March 2021 so has shown a liking to the course, and is expected to make a bold bid for a Punchestown triumph.

15:40 Punchestown - Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle
Midnight It Is silk

Midnight It Is

lost

16:15 Punchestown - Connolly's RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final

The formline which looks worth focusing on here is the line between Glengouly and the selection SAM’S CHOICE. The former has been victorious both times these two have clashed on their last two outings, however connections of Sam’s Choice will feel unlucky not to have got at least one victory under their belt when chasing home Glengouly.

The first time they clashed at Gowran Park Sam’s Choice made a silly mistake two out when having every chance and never recovering, while last time out at Leopardstown he had to switch when short of room in behind the eventual winner. He gets a swing in the weights for this clash and if he can have a less luckless run through the race he is primed to avenge his defeats and pick up this prize for the Gordon Elliott team.

16:15 Punchestown - Connolly's RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final
Sam's Choice silk

Sam's Choice

Pulled Up

16:45 Punchestown - Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle

This looks like a contest crammed full of runners who will fancy their chances, with some smart formlines from across the season clashing. Ganapathi represents the Donnelly family and Willie Mullins and although he has not looked top class this season he ran better than the result suggests in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. Largy Debut started the season by causing the biggest boilover in Irish racing history when upsetting 1/14 favourite Kilcruit, and although he hasn’t quite kicked on he is not one to dismiss.

The one I like most however, is FILS D’OUDAIRIES for Nicky Henderson. He ran a tremendous race behind a seriously well handicapped horse in Langer Dan at Aintree last time out and if he can put in a repeat performance here over slightly shorter it would take another serious tool to get past him.

 

16:45 Punchestown - Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle
Fils D'oudairies silk

Fils D'oudairies

placed
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17:20 - Punchestown - Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

A rematch of the Albert Bartlett beckons here in the Grade 1 Irish Mirror Novices’ Hurdle, with the winner, second and third all re-opposing! Throw in Journey with Me, who looked to be in with at least a place chance in the Ballymore before taking a tumble, and Minella Crooner who missed Cheltenham due to a minor injury and we look set for a belting race.

Minella Cocooner led them all for a long way in the aforementioned Cheltenham contest but was no match for the winner and Bardenstown Lad also ran with credit back in third place. However, there seems no reason to my eye that THE NICE GUY will not reaffirm his credentials as the top three mile novice hurdler with a victory here at Punchestown. Sent off 18/1 he was clearly not hugely fancied by connections to win at Cheltenham but the ease with which he sauntered through the race and his clearly sound temperament after getting himself back on an even footing after a few mistakes and being carried slightly across the track will stand him in good stead to pick up his second Grade 1 on just his fifth start.

17:20 Punchestown - Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
The Nice Guy silk

The Nice Guy

won
Punchestown Gold Cup Odds

17:55 Punchestown - Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1)

The feature contest of Day Two and indeed the whole Punchestown Festival comes here with the Punchestown Gold Cup on the line. Reigning dual Ryanair Champion Allaho heads the market and if this race were over the intermediate trip he would be the banker of the meeting. However, the extra distance is a slight concern with the Mullins behemoth, as he has only won one of five starts over three miles in his career. They were a long while ago and his stamina may have improved now with age, but at the prices he can be left alone.

Minella Indo ran well and was arguably given a poor ride when attempting to defend his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown, although it is unlikely he could’ve lived with runaway winner A Plus Tard on the day. He has each-way claims but runs his best races at Prestbury Park so is another scratched from the list. Galvin was further back that day in fourth and although better can be expected from him back on home soil, there is a nagging concern that in the Gold Cup a long couple of seasons may finally have caught up with him. 

Kemboy bombed out at Aintree last time, a track he previously showed such zest at, and so is on a retrieval mission here, while reigning King George winner Tornado Flyer is facing the same sort of task after pulling up in the Gold Cup last time out. Al Boum Photo finished a solid sixth in the 2022 renewal of the race but the 2019 and 2020 champion is surely past his best now and at best is playing for places in here, while Janadil was no match for Allaho at Cheltenham and it is hard to see how he reverses form here.

Fakir D’Oudairies is interesting stepping back up in trip after his Aintree romp, but I have never been convinced of his stamina and so the one left that I like is another backing up from Aintree in the defending champion CLAN DES OBEAUX for Paul Nicholls. He has not exactly been a model of consistency through the years but when he is good, he’s very good as exemplified when winning this race last year and indeed in his back-to-form triumph in the Aintree Bowl a few weeks ago. The Nicholls team could hardly be in better form and Clan Des Obeaux proved he could back up from Aintree to Punchestown in 2021, so the ten year old is chanced to repeat the feat in this year’s race.

17:55 Punchestown - Punchestown Gold Cup
Clan Des Obeaux silk

Clan Des Obeaux

placed

18:30 Punchestown - Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 1)

I will keep this one short and sweet. At Cheltenham I quite fancied American Mike to put a halt to the FACILE VEGA hype train, but that train is now well and truly flying down the tracks. The son of Quevega is clearly an absolute weapon and will handle any conditions or way the race could possibly be run, so I expect him to confirm placings with American Mike and if anything to extend the gap. The two should be clear of the rest of this field and it would be no surprise to see them in the same 1-2 positions. You won’t get rich backing 8/13 shots but I can’t see this one beaten.

18:30 Punchestown - Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (Grade 1)
Facile Vega silk

Facile Vega

won

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19:05 Punchestown - OMC Claims Handicap Chase (Grade A)

Once touted as the next Mullins-Walsh-Ricci Supreme hotpot, ANNAMIX then went missing for over a year before reappearing and never quite hitting the heights expected of him. That being said, the obviously talented individual does just now seem to be finding a bit of consistency as a intermediate-trip chaser, as was exemplified by his encouraging third placed finish behind Mac Tottie in the Topham at Aintree.

Front running tactics seemed to get a tune out of him and with the ground seemingly in his favour, if he is allowed to stride on again in this race by Danny Mullins he is one in a hot contest who has strong each-way claims and will be carrying some of my cash.

19:05 Punchestown - OMC Claims Handicap Chase (Grade A)
Annamix silk

Annamix (EW)

lost

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19:45 Punchestown - Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (Grade 3)

The concluding race on the card is another bumper, this time exclusively for mares. Obviously punting in bumpers is fraught with risk as the rate of improvement from runner to runner varies greatly and it is unlikely we have seen the best of any of this lot just yet. One runner that looked more streetwise than most of her age and experience is LILY DU BERLAIS. She was last seen battling to a pulsating success over the re-opposing Battling Bessie in a Grade Two at Leopardstown eighty days ago, eventually ending up just a nose ahead of her rival. 

What impressed me most in this performance was her battling attitude to get past the hampering and squeezing she faced to get herself into contention. These are traits that will see her well in the expected hustle and bustle of this contest and as she faces off with some from more high profile connections she should hopefully stay at a backable price for the Day Two closer.  

19:45 Punchestown - Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (Grade 3)
Lily Du Berlais silk

Lily Du Berlais

Non-Runner
Today's Racing Tips
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