Punchestown Festival Day 3 Tips: Check out the best bets for Thursday at Punchestown

Punchestown Festival Day 3 Tips: Check out our best bets for Thursday.
Punchestown Festival Day 3 Tips: Check out our best bets for Thursday.

Steve Chambers previews Thursday's racing at the Punchestown Festival, and picks out his best bets for day three of the meeting...

Top notch National Hunt racing continues on day three of the Punchestown Festival, and it's time for the likes of Flooring Porter and Energumene to strut their stuff, but we are veering away from the pair of those equine stars, and looking elsewhere for our best bets on Thursday.

17:25 - Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle

Gavin Cromwell's Flooring Porter was a mightily-impressive lead-all-the-way winner of the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and the ultra-progressive staying hurdler, who has ventured through the handicap sphere to be a classy Grade 1 performer sets the standard in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at 17:25 on Thursday.

However, he was given a soft lead for most of that Cheltenham contest and he may not get that here with the Paul Hennessy-trained Pertemps Final winner Heaven Help Us likely to be on the speed from the flag fall. While the ceiling hasn't been reached yet with Flooring Porter's capabilities, he's awfully short for a race jam-packed with classy stayers, and he could well prove vulnerable to a closer in the final few furlongs.

Noel Meade unleashes a dual-pronged attack at this contest with BEACON EDGE and Diol Ker lining up, and it's the former that makes most appeal, as he performed with real credit in the Stayers' Hurdle when finishing fourth at his first try over three miles. Prior to that Cheltenham contest, the seven-year-old beat Fury Road in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle over 2m 5f, and if he can continue on an upward curve could be a notable thorn in the favourite's side.

He has winning form at Punchestown and is a real model of consistency, as he's yet to finish out of the top four in his career, so if Beacon Edge can stalk Flooring Porter for most of the contest, then he could well strike late under a patient ride from Sean Flanagan, and the Gigginstown House Stud-owned raider can claim Grade 1 glory.

Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
Beacon Edge silk

Beacon Edge

Fell

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Punchestown Festival Tips

18:00 - Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle

There's a fiercely competitive three-mile handicap hurdle at 18:00 and the likes of Max Flamingo, Capodanno and Lynwood Gold should prove to be major players in what is set to be a devilishly difficult betting heat for punters to work out, but there could be some eye-catching value further down the betting.

The one that catches the eye is the Denise Foster-trained Ragnar Lodbrok, who should offer some hugely attractive each-way value, and with some bookmakers offering six places in the each-way betting, then he looks a cracking bet for this fascinating Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle.

The six-year-old won his maiden hurdle at Galway before running creditably in a brace of Cork contests. He was then handed his stiffest test to date as he locked horns with Bob Olinger in the Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle in January, and he was no match for the emphatic Cheltenham Festival winner, as he could only finish fifth.

Showing promise next time out when second at Navan, Ragnar Lodbrok's last outing was at Fairyhouse, where he finished sixth in a competitive event. He lines up off the same mark on Thursday evening and while he needs to improve, he showed he relishes the hustle and bustle of a big-runner field, and looks to have the potential to spring a shock off a mark of 128.

Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle
Ragnar Lodbrok silk

Ragnar Lodbrok (EW)

lost

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19:05 - Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle

There may only be seven runners in the Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle at 19:05, but there's some exceptional young talent lining up and the market is headed by Magic Daze, who was a fine second to Telmesomethinggirl in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Henry de Bromhead's five-year-old hasn't been seen since that outing, and while she has to come into calculations, she could be beaten by a more progressive rival.

The likes of Gauloise and Hook Up take their chance for Willie Mullins, while the Closutton handler's charge is boosted by The West Awaits and all three are major players, if producing their best form, and it's the former that makes most appeal.

However, the one to go with here is the Denise Foster Bigbadandbeautiful, who was a very useful bumper performer, who tasted Listed success on the level, and showed her class over timber last time out when winning a maiden hurdle at Navan last month in emphatic style. She may have only won by just over a length, but she was ridden out for a comfortable victory, and there could be a whole lot more to come over hurdles.

There's no doubt she will need to improve if she is to down the likes of Magic Daze and Gauloise, but while those rivals have had hard races in recent weeks, Bigbadandbeautiful should line up fairly fresh, and if she can continue to blossom over obstacles then can stride to glory here.

Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle
Bigbadandbeautiful silk

Bigbadandbeautiful

Pulled Up
Punchestown Champion Hurdle Odds

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