The jump season concludes at Punchestown and Sandown. Staying chasers feature prominently on both sides of the water, but it is the Irish staying chase (1700) that catches our eye.
English raider Daklondike has freshness on his side, but the overseas raiders have frequently been found wanting. Willie Mullins has the other leading contenders, with Augustin likely to improve for the step up in trip, although that is unproven.
Willie is more likely to land this with the favourite Isleofhopendreams, who followed up a runner-up effort in the Irish National Trial here in February with being short headed in the real thing at Fairyhouse a few weeks ago. He was both lucky and unlucky that day – unlucky to get chinned on the line, but lucky as there were a number of hard luck stories in behind. Looks sure to go well, but it might be second again.
One of those Fairyhouse hard luck stories was Forever Gold. This 11yo is in the form of his life and was finishing fast in 3rd in the Irish National on the shoulder of Isleofhopendreams. He may well have won that day but for momentum busting errors at the last two fences.
He should probably be joint favourite on that form, and if you add in his Punchesown Festival form, which includes seconds in each of the last two years, including the 2016 running of this race, he should almost be favourite. He isn’t, which may have more to do with what’s behind his name on the card (ie traine Ed Cawley not Willie Mullins), than the form in front of his name.
Recommendation: Forever Gold, (1700 Punchestown), 1pt win, 10/1 Betfair
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