Punchestown Festval 2022 Day 4 Tips: Another Mullins Mauling at Punchestown

Honeysuckle is the star attraction on Day Four
Honeysuckle is the star attraction on Day Four

The marathon that is the Punchestown Festival just keeps coming and there is another packed card of action for racing fans to enjoy on Friday. Billy Grimshaw has attempted to pick a winner in each of the eight contests and has given his reasoning for us here…

15:40 - Stanley Asphalt Hunters Chase For The Bishopscourt Cup

This looks a weak race to kick things off with but one who is very interesting and could have been plotted up for this contest is JIGGINSTOWN KING for the shrewd Shark Hanlon.

The legendary trainer has booked leading seven pound claimer Rob James to ride this horse’s first start under rules. Pulled up in his only point to point start last month, that can be discounted as merely getting some air in the lungs.

This yard won this race last year and he is worth chancing in the opener, especially if the market speaks in his favour.

15:40 Punchestown - Stanley Asphalt Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup
Jigginstown King silk

Jigginstown King (EW)

lost

16:15 - EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A)

BIRCHDALE was once a hugely promising Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle contender for JP McManus and Nicky Henderson, but he never seemed to recover that early spark after pulling up behind Minella Indo in the 2019 renewal when sent off a 6/1 leading chance.

He did not win another race for Nicky Henderson and threw in some horrific efforts along with a few that showed flickers of his former talents. He had one chase start for the Seven Barrows team (finishing a length and ¾ down when 10/11 favourite behind Eglantine Du Seuil) before In the summer of 2021 he switched trainers to Enda Bolger.

This campaign he has stuck to fences and has gradually seemed to find a new lease of life for new connections. He has been tried over a number of different trips but everything seemed to come together last time out when well backed into 9/2 favouritism for a handicap at Leopardstown in which he duly obliged over two and a half miles. Set to tackle the same trip in this contest and being handed lumps of weight from Blue Sari, he can provide backers with another bold bid and should at least be in the shake up for minor honours.  

16:15 Punchestown - EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A)
Birchdale silk

Birchdale (EW)

lost

16:50 - Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase

The Thursday of Cheltenham 2022 will be remembered as another red letter Willie Mullins day and ELIMAY played no small part in making that happen. Beaten as favourite in the inaugural Mares’ Chase back in 2021 by stablemate Colreevy, Elimay was well backed to make amends with her conqueror in 2021 now retired.

She never looked to be travelling sweetly for Mark Walsh but the little grey horse stuck to the task grimly and in the end outbattled a host of her rivals who had leading chances jumping the last to land the Grade Two prize. That was undoubtedly a tough race for Elimay but this looks a weaker assignment.

Her price is probably too short to be backing unless you are a high stakes player but she is worth slotting into any accumulators as she looks clear of these and (barring Honeysuckle) looks the most solid favourite of the day.

16:50 Punchestown - Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase
Elimay silk

Elimay

placed

17:25 - Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

This race is obviously all about the favourite and the poster girl of National Hunt racing in Honeysuckle, with Henry De Bromhead’s wonder-mare hoping to cap another brilliant season with yet another Grade One win.

She is on an incredible sixteen race winning streak and will have to underperform drastically or bomb out to be beaten here. A short priced favourite can kill all betting potential in certain races, but when without the favourite markets appear the one to side with here is the Joseph O’Brien trained DARASSO.

The likeable nine year old has been better than ever this season and is just the type of reliable sort to plug on late past beaten rivals who attempted to test Honeysuckle to grab a place. He is currently the outsider of the field and this massively underestimates his chances so back him each way and in any without markets once they start to flesh out.

17:25 Punchestown - Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
Darasso silk

Darasso (EW)

lost

18:00 - Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

The Thursday at Punchestown could be leaving some with a sense of deja vu if STATE MAN can back up his County Hurdle romp with a Grade One win in this contest. After (hopefully) Elimay and Honeysuckle have repeated their Cheltenham performances and claimed their prizes I expect State Man to confirm himself as a bona-fide Graded performer and see off the talented Three Stripe Life.

There is no danger of State Man suffering from burnout after his well engineered light campaign got him perfectly weighted to bolt up in a Cheltenham handicap and the style of his County Hurdle win was reminiscent of Galopin Des Champs, who followed this exact same trail last season for the same connections.

If running to the level he showed at Cheltenham it will take a very good one to beat State Man and I expect another favourite to cruise in here.

18:00 Punchestown - Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
State Man silk

State Man

won
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18:35 - Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase

Now, the sense of deja vu really will be getting ridiculous if this Cheltenham Thursday winner comes home in front again too!  BILLAWAY is another favourite on the day who to my eye must get the vote to add to his Cheltenham Hunters’ title with the Punchestown equivalent. His flaws are well known by now to all who have paid even the slightest attention to his career, with wayward jumps just part of the exciting Billaway package.

What is also included in the package is a stunning engine, which was exemplified in his astonishing win at Cheltenham when seemingly coming from nowhere to nab the leader close to home.

He faces a fresher rival on a good winning sequence here in Vaucelet but BIllaway at ten seems to be just about finally hitting his prime and he can go one better than when finishing a nose second in this contest last campaign.

18:35 Punchestown - Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase
Billaway silk

Billaway

won
Punchestown Champion Hurdle Preview

19:10 - SalesSense International Novice Hurdle

This race is surely a ridiculously short price to be heading the way of the Closutton team, with Willie Mullins holding all the aces and training the first FOUR in the market! El Fabiolo is undoubtedly the stable's first string and he lost nothing in defeat to Jonbon at Aintree last time out when an iffy jump arguably cost him the win, only going down by a head to Nicky Henderson's star.

In terms of this race, it is the Mullins third string BRING ON THE NIGHT who will be carrying my cash as an each-way alternative to the favourite who is likely to be odds on. Nothing could live with Constitution Hill in his brilliant Supreme Novices' Hurdle romp a month and a bit ago at Cheltenham but on watching the race back Bring On The Night ran with plenty of promise in behind. He eventually finished 33 lengths back in fourth place but was not given a hard time by Bryan Cooper once he realised the futility of chasing an aeroplane.

With a longer break than El Fabiolo and a running style which should suit this track I would expect Bring On The Night to be able to give the favourite plenty to think about and maybe even spring a surprise.

19:10 Punchestown - SalesSense International Novice Hurdle
Bring On The Night silk

Bring On The Night

lost

19:45 - Avison Young Flat Race

The concluding race of the Friday card at Punchestown comes in the shape of a flat race and predictably there are a raft of potentially smart ones entered. Don Chalant could be the latest Willie Mullins bumper superstar after we saw the awesome performance of Facile Vega who was chased home equally impressively by Redemption Day on Wednesday. Golden Wonders looked fairly green last time out when second at Leopardstown and if he has matured for that outing warrants respect but the one I will take a chance on is GREAT NAME THAT.

I'm expecting Rob James to have a cracking end to the day with this pick as he has been booked by Harry Fry to ride this British raider. Fry is notoriously delicate with his horses so wouldn't just be sending this one over for the holiday, and with the yard in good form and a tongue strap applied he can begin life under rules with a win at a massive festival to mark himself out as one to keep on side as his career develops.

19:45 Punchestown - Avison Young INH Flat Race
Great Name That silk

Great Name That

lost
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