Punchestown Festival Day 2 | High Class needs to Answer

Punchestown Festival

Yesterday at the Punchestown Festival was a tough day to take as expectations were high for the two handicap chances but both failed to hit the frame and Monty’s Star ran into what looked like a better horse on the day.

The recent spell wouldn’t offer too much confidence, but let’s hope the second day at Punchestown can start to rectify recent losses.


2:30 Punchestown – Final Orders @ 8/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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Good horses operate in many different conditions and that philosophy fits the profile of Final Orders as he’s picked up victories over fences, hurdles, and on the Flat during the last 15 months.

The most recent of these occurred at Bellewstown as he won a handicap hurdle off a mark of 102, a full 20lbs below his current hurdles mark, but his current rating of 122 is still 18lbs below his last winning mark over fences.

Better ground is what he wants and Gavin Cromwell is applying first-time cheekpieces after a good pipe-opener at Cheltenham earlier in the month.

For these reasons, I’m chancing him at 8/1.


3:05 Punchestown – Answer To Kayf @ 9/4 with William Hill – 2pt Win

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If he handles the ground, the claims of Answer To Kayf are obvious and his price of 9/4 looks fair.

The eight-year-old won a qualifier for this series back in February, and trainer Terence O’Brien told irishracing.com that the final “is probably the main aim”.

During that qualifier, he beat Captain Conby (a Grade 2 winner since) and some of Wednesday’s rivals including Blizzard Of Oz, Backtonormal, and Any Road.

Furthermore, he ran a cracker in a Grade 2 novice hurdle back in December, a race that produced the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner Stellar Story.

The form of his Martin Pipe fourth looks solid with the likes of Waterford Whispers, Better Days Ahead, and Quai De Bourbon as the latter bolted up at Ayr on Scottish Grand National Day.

As for the ground, although most of his form is on the slower stuff, the half-sister to You Wear It Well is out of Annie’s Answer who won a Listed hurdle on good to firm, so his pedigree suggests better ground shouldn’t cause any issues.

All things considered, he is the most likely winner in my eyes.


3:40 Punchestown – No Flies On Him @ 6/1 with Bet365 (4 places) – 1pt EW

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At one stage this season, I thought No Flies On Him was a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle horse, and while he never made it to the race, I’m sticking to my guns here.

On debut, he beat a good field of D B Cooper, Ascending, and Kings Hill, boasting a time that was three seconds quicker than the maiden hurdle won by King Of Kingsfield (No Flies On Him was carrying 5lbs fewer) and seven seconds quicker than the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle that included Kala Conti and, notably, Kargese (No Flies On Him was carrying 12lbs more than Kargese).

That’s fairly smart considering Kargese subsequently earned a Grade 1 success at the DRF as well as runners-up medals in both the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle and Grade 1 4-Y-O Hurdle at Aintree.

Furthermore, from a form angle, he beat Jango Baie, arguably one of the most exciting British staying novice chasers heading into next year, in a point-to-point.

On his last two starts, the ground was deplorable which made his rapid drift in the market ahead of the Listed Sheila Bourke Novice Hurdle understandable, so a return to better ground will suit.

This is backed up when looking at his pedigree as he is by Westerner out of Zalda, a mare who won a good to firm Ripon handicap as well as a good ground novice hurdle.

At 6/1, his price looks good.


4:15 Punchestown – High Class Hero @ 10/1 with Betfair – 0.5pt EW

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One of my better bets for the whole Cheltenham Festival came in the form of High Class Hero in the Albert Bartlett, and it’s safe to say the experiment was not a fruitful one.

The seven-year-old ran too freely, and doing that at Cheltenham is a recipe for disaster, which caused Patrick Mullins to pull him up.

However, because of the run he got, he comes into Punchestown as one of the fresher horses and prior to his Cheltenham disappointment, he did everything rather easily on the track.

He has victories on ground varying from good to heavy, though with the way he travels through his races at a high cruising speed, one could argue that a sounder surface suits him better.

A return to a right-handed track will do no harm as well, so I can envisage a big run from the Sulamani gelding.


4:50 Punchestown – You Oughta Know @ 50/1 with Bet365 – 0.5 EW

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Finally, over in the bumper, I’m taking a swing on You Oughta Know at a wild price of 50/1 for several reasons.

Firstly, a return to better ground at Punchestown will see him go much better than his 10th in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper, though he did put in a credible effort that day.

Secondly, his form is beginning to stack up. On debut, he smashed Croke Park (a Grade 3 winner) by 11 lengths when giving five pounds away and then he followed up at Galway to beat Toto Too by two lengths while giving 14lbs away.

Toto Too, despite his poor effort in a handicap hurdle at Punchestown on Tuesday, won his next two races, finished nine lengths behind Lookaway in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and then danced in on the bridle at Naas in April.

After that, he beat Redemption Day at Leopardstown in the Grade 2 Future Stars Bumper, though he found Jeroboam Machin too good. This race was one of the better Graded bumpers of the season, and the winner looked electric that day before his injury announcement.

At 50/1, I can’t let him go off unbacked.

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