Punchestown Festival 2022 Day 3 Tips: Check out our best bets for Thursday's Irish action
There's a sparkling eight-race card on day three of the Punchestown Festival, and our in-house tipster Steve Chambers goes through the bumper National Hunt card and picks out his best bet in each of the eight races...
15:40 Punchestown - Specialist Joinery Group Handicap Hurdle
A real punting head-scratcher to start off the day, but Henry De Bromhead's HIDE AND SEEK was an impressive ten-length winner of a mares' maiden hurdle last time out at Tramore, and the five-year-old mare will look to show her class in handicap company on Thursday afternoon. Available at double-figured odds, at the time of writing, Hide And Seek will line up off a mark of 107 which certainly looks workable and with some firms offering six places in the each-way market then she warrants a decent play in a tough curtain-raiser.
Hide And Seek (EW)
16:15 Punchestown - Pigsback.com Handicap Chase
Grange Walk appeared to have the measure of MT LEINSTER when they clashed at Fairyhouse a few weeks ago, but the former crashed to the turf two fences from home and it was left to the Willie Mullins-trained raider Mt Leinster to storm to victory, as he made it back-to-back wins. The pair lock horns again in the 16:15 contest and it's Grange Walk that heads the betting with Mt Leinster sitting behind him. Well, that clash was only eleven days ago, so it could have left a significant mark on Grange Walk's confidence, and having fallen in two of his last four starts then it's sensible to stick with the consistent Mt Leinster, who can record a third victory on the spin.
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16:50 Punchestown - Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase
Singing Banjo lines up as the reigning champion and has to be respected, but it's the Enda Bolger-trained SHADY OPERATOR that can bound to La Touche Cup glory, as the course winner can relish a return to Punchestown and show is class in an intriguing renewal. Eighth in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham, he won't face anything in the same league as Delta Work and Tiger Roll in this event, and having finished a very creditable second at the track two starts ago, then he can go one better here. A fine winner of the Risk Of Thunder Chase back in November, the nine-year-old can simply outclass his rivals here and add another notable success to his CV.
17:25 Punchestown - Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
A facile nine-length winner of this event 12 months ago, Klassical Dream will attempt to replicate that success on Thursday, but he failed to fire in the closing stages of the Stayers' Hurdle at last month's Cheltenham Festival, and it's hard to back him with significant confidence at such short odds. Recent Aintree hero Sire Du Berlais is sure to be a leading player, but there's a fascinating double-figured price catching the eye and that is Gavin Cromwell's VANILLIER. The former Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle hero struggled during his novice chasing campaign and was last seen finishing third in the National Hunt Chase, but a return to the hurdling sphere could well galvanise him and he could well be a significant surprise package.
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18:00 Punchestown - Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle
A devilishly difficult assignment for punters to work out and with the bookmakers going 8/1 the field, at the time of writing, that just highlights what a competitive race is in order. Nicky Henderson's City Chief has won his last two and will make the trip over, while the likes of Macs Charm and Sassy Yet Classy are both prominent figures in the betting. However, the one worth siding with is the Willie Mullins-trained MAZE RUNNER, who was last seen running an absolute corker when fifth in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, and off a 6lbs lower mark here he could prevail. Prior to that Cheltenham run he finished a close sixth at Leopardstown, and he is one with significant experience in these hot handicap hurdles. Kieran Callaghan will take a vital 7lbs off his back, so he looks extremely attractively handicapped, if he can produce his best form.
Maze Runner (EW)
18:35 Punchestown - Barberstown Castle Novice Chase
Willie Mullins has won the last six renewals of this Grade 1 prize and the master of Closutton will saddle four of the seven runners in the 2022 renewal and spearheading the team will be the hugely progressive Gentleman De Mee, who is a warm order to claim this prize. However, BLUE LORD could be the value alternative to the favourite, as having racked up some notable wins he slightly disappointed when third in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He's much better than that seven length defeat, and if he can get into a rhythm over his fences then he could well put it up to his stablemate Gentleman De Mee, who will fail to build on his Grade 1 novice chase win at Aintree.
19:10 Punchestown - Close Brothers Irish Ebf Mares Handicap Chase
Gordon Elliott's HURRICANE GEORGIE will have the burden of top weight in the penultimate race on day three of the Punchestown Festival, but the five-year-old mare could prove to be a cut above her rivals here. Ffith in a Grade 3 novice chase earlier in the season behind Riviere D'etel, the Cullentra House inmate showed notable improvement last time out when chasing home Dolcita at Fairyhouse earlier this month, and she can go one better on Thursday. Staying on in eye-catching fashion, she will also benefit from having the valuable 7lbs claim of Rob James, so it's all set fair for her to run a corker and notch her second win over fences.
19:45 Punchestown - Jp & M Doyle Celebrating 70 Years In Business Flat Race
A fine third behind stablemate Facile Vega in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last month, JAMES'S GATE appears to have been found an ideal race to see him return to winning ways, and it's hard to look past the Willie Mullins-trained performer in the finale at Punchestown. A winner on debut at Punchestown in February in heavy going, he will have different conditions to deal with here, but having finished just over six lengths behind Facile Vega in the premier National Hunt flat race contested this season then that looks the classiest piece of form on show and he can retain this crown for the Mullins team, who saddled Dysart Dynamo to victory in this race 12 months ago.