Plenty of drama on Day 1 at Punchestown, not least the strategy and antics at the start of the novice hurdle that predictably undid Labaik.
It will take more than a bit of gamesmanship to impact the outcome of today’s Gold Cup (1730 BST). The warm favourite is rightly Sizing John. On Leopardstown form he deserves it, on Cheltenham form he should probably be shorter still. With the ground if anything even more favourable, he should be too good for Djakadam.
The day kicks off with a hurdle race (1540) where all eyes will be on Shamiran, making his 6th appearance in the race at the age of 12, with 3 prior wins in this event to his name. He has, as is customary, shown nothing since that win last year, but is sure to have been prepped for the moment and looks too big and is worth a small each way bet.
Presenting Percy did us a big favour at Cheltenham in winning the Pertemps. Much of our confidence came not just from belief in the horse, but how the race would suit. We have no less belief in Percy, but this race (1655) could be a more challenging prospect, and if there isn’t the pace of those handicap races then he should be vulnerable to good ex-flat racer Penhill, also a Cheltenham winner, but with a speed edge on Percy.
Keep some powder back for the second of the day’s big handicaps. Willie Mullins’ Polidam has been a talking horse this year without actually running. Rumoured to be a National prospect he was rated too low for those races. Still, the market here looks to have over-reacted, and that creates value. Mr Diablo is the one that looks the good price, with plenty of course form and ground to suit he can win this for the Dempsey team.
Shamiran (1540 Punchestown), each way, 25/1, Bet 365
Penhill (1655 Punchestown), 11/4 Betfair & Boylesports
Sizing John (1730 Punchestown), Evens, generally available
Mr Diablo (1840 Punchestown), 12/1, generally available
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