Steve Mullen guides you through Thursday’s racing from the Punchestown Festival, Beverley, Taunton, Perth, Market Rasen and Chelmsford
Look to the East for a big win at Punchestown today.
TULLY EAST was massively impressive when winning at the Cheltenham Festival last time and a 6lb hike in the weights gives him huge claims in the 4.15.
Alan Fleming’s seven-year-old was already showing signs of being classy before heading across the Irish Sea last month. He had finished second in a Navan Grade 3 on the back of a convincing win on his chasing debut at Thurles in December.
He was a useful hurdler too, finishing fourth in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham in 2016.
Denis O’Regan’s mount has already eclipsed that form over the bigger obstacles and can land a nice prize here.
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Colin Tizzard is enjoying a winner-packed end to the season and his Sizing Platinum cannot run as badly as he did in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last time. He has had some help from the handicapper and the first-time tongue tie could also help him today. He has each-way prospects at what should be a big price.
It’s hard to see anything getting the better of CANTLOW in the La Touche Cup at 4.50.
He is quickly joining the long list of Enda Bolger greats that have plundered this banks course down the years. Although many were disappointed by his third in the Cheltenham Cross-Country race last time it was still a decent enough run — and still sets him apart from any of today’s rivals.
The Champion Stayers Hurdle at 5.30 is an interesting puzzle, especially as horses that ran in the Cheltenham version don’t have a great record in it.
At the prices, FOOTPAD could go close on this first try over a longer distance.
He was best at 2m4f in France earlier in his career but has been campaigned at the minimum trip since moving to Willie Mullins.
There wasn’t a lot wrong with his fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out. He travelled strongly until the speedier types just outran him up the hill.
He shows signs of staying this far and has that little touch of class about him that could see him make the frame at least.
Stablemate Nichols Canyon will be all the rage and if he repeats the form that saw him win at Cheltenham he will be hard to beat. But there’s that dodgy record of Festival Stayers’ Hurdle winners in the back of my mind.
BILLY’S HOPE ran a cracker when second at Fairyhouse last time and can have a big say in the 6.05.
She was coming back after four months off and that may have just told in the closing stages when she had to settle for the runner-up spot. That was over this 3m trip, which isn’t a problem, and a 3lb rise in the weights looks more than fair.
Annie Power does not feature in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle declarations for Friday
Top Tipster Steve Mullen’s best racing selections for Wednesday, April 26 including the Punchestown Festival
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SIZING IT UP
Jessica Harrington hoping Sizing John can continue her incredible season at Punchestown
In-form Jessica Harrington is turning her out quickly and that has been a tactic used to good effect with her before including when winning around here 18 months ago.
Of course there are dangers galore in such an open race with Showem Silver feared after he weaved his way through to win in a big field at Fairyhouse last week.
He’s up 12lb for that but has the look of a progressive hurdler.
GREAT FIELD should take off in the Ryanair Novice Chase at 6.40 but he’s flying under nobody’s radar and will be a short order.
The odds should be a bit better for ASTHURIA in the 7.15. She has been thrown into the deep end a few times now by Willie Mullins and never lets herself down.
She was a solid fifth in the Dawn Run at Cheltenham last time and has form at the highest level from her third in a Fairyouse Grade 1 last season.
Although she stays further, the 2m trip isn’t beyond her and she should be running on strongly at the finish.
3.40 Sweet Company
4.15 TULLY EAST (NAP)
6.05 Billy’s Hope (nb)
6.40 Great Field
7.45 Catwalk King
1.40 Perfect Symphony
2.10 Foxy’s Spirit
2.45 Kodiac Khan
3.15 Fleetfoot Jack
1.50 Comical Red
2.20 With Pleasure
3.25 Agincourt Reef
4.00 Lined With Silver
4.30 Cadeaux’s Fire
5.05 Boa Island
2.35 Valseur Du Granval
4.10 Baileys Concerto
4.45 Hello George
5.20 Twist On Ginge
5.10 Twenty Eight Guns
6.20 Crafty Roberto
6.55 Ultimatum Du Roy
8.00 Go Go Lucas
5.55 Five Star Frank
7.40 That Is The Spirit
8.15 Tee It Up Tommo
8.45 Mystique Moon