Punchestown Festival Day 4 | A Mighty chance for Brides Hill

Punchestown Festival

The third day of the 2024 Punchestown Festival began with a brilliant story thanks to Singing Banjo in the La Touche Cup, but the subsequent fatal injuries sustained by Kilbeg King and Sire Du Berlais marred the day.

Sire Du Berlais was a warrior of a horse – his Cheltenham Festival record speaks for itself – and Kilbeg King was a personal favourite of mine who held plenty of ability and potential. Thoughts are truly with those closest to these horses.

As for the column, from the three bets put up, we returned profit on the day as Will Do placed in the three-mile handicap hurdle at 33/1.

I did initially think Buddy One had also returned place money after his run in the Grade 1 Champion Stayers Hurdle, but Home By The Lee collared him for third on the line.

Still, let’s roll on to the fourth day of the Punchestown Festival.


3:00 Newmarket – Zouky @ 15/2 with William Hill (5 places) – 1pt EW

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Starting at Newmarket rather than Punchestown, Zouky is worth looking at in the seven-furlong handicap on her second start of the season.

Having run well over a mile on the all-weather at Kempton last month, she’ll come on for that and will appreciate a return to the turf.

The four-year-old by Zoustar performed well in Listed company on two occasions last season when clashing with the likes of Queen Aminatu, Potapova, Breege, and Nine Tenths.

However, it’s not just this form that looks good as she was second off 87 in a Doncaster handicap in September, a race that has seen Dark Thirty come out of and win subsequently.

Furthermore, Poet Master (the winner) has improved since as shown by his nice handicap success at Newmarket earlier this year off a mark of 100.

All in all, she has a good chance here back at seven furlongs.


4:15 Punchestown – Flanking Maneuver @ 28/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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The first handicap race of the day from Punchestown is very interesting, and a few horses made it onto the shortlist, but Flanking Maneuver is the one I’m siding with at the prices.

Despite his age of nine, the Beat Hollow gelding is relatively lightly raced due to his 760 days away from the track between January 2021 and February 2023, but he showed his well-being in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase last year.

That race has worked out as Mahler Mission would have gone close in the 2023 Grade 2 National Hunt Chase if not for falling and he finished second in the Coral Gold Cup after that

He has dipped his hoof into Grade 1 company on two occasions this season, one of which in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase where he finished fourth and the other came on his last start in the WillowWarm Gold Cup.

Arguably, he has excuses for both the runs as in the former, he travelled well but found three miles on bottomless ground a bit tough at the end, and he was badly hampered by a faller on his latest start.

A rating of 134 is very handy when considering the excuses for his recent disappointing efforts.


4:50 Punchestown – Brides Hill @ 7/4 with Bet365 – 2pt Win

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Regular viewers of the Only Fools Love Horses YouTube channel or my X page already know the love I have for Brides Hill, and today is where she gets her preferred conditions.

She was a non-runner at Cheltenham due to the soft conditions, so a return to a sounder surface will suit her.

Her ability is apparent, especially on decent ground when going right-handed, and with Allegorie De Vassy’s potential preference for a slower surface, that puts Brides Hill ahead of her in my mind.


5:25 Punchestown – Lifetime Ambition @ 4/1 with William Hill – 1pt Win

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When looking at any hunter chases at the big meetings, class tends to prevail and the nine-year-old Lifetime Ambition is one who still retains that old spark.

The Kapgarde gelding was a decent performer for Jessica Harrington as a novice and handicap chaser – notably when second to Capodanno in the 2022 Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase – but he switched to point-to-points in October 2023.

Since that switch, four of his last six races resulted in a win and his most recent success came at Cork during an 11-length victory.

He has form on better ground and he is a quality horse, which is why he should go well on Friday.


7:05 Punchestown – Mighty Bandit @ 18/1 with Bet365 (four places) – 1pt EW

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Mighty Bandit has a classic profile of a horse I like to back in races like this and the 18/1 available has helped sweeten the deal on why I’m with him.

The four-year-old by Order Of St George gets six pounds from his elders and is arguably still unexposed as he’s had just three runs, one of which was successful.

That came on debut at Punchestown when trained by Gordon Elliott as he beat Lark In The Morning by nine lengths, a good piece of form considering Harsh – an impressive handicap hurdle winner earlier in the week – was back in third.

After that, he went into Grade 2 Mercedes-Benz South Dublin Juvenile Hurdle as the 13/8 favourite but could only manage ninth. Admittedly, that was disappointing, but his wind was seemingly the issue as he had a wind-op soon after.

Now with Warren Greatrex, he ran in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival on his first start for a while, so he’s likely to come on for that and a return to a sounder surface at an easier track will benefit him.

He has to bounce back, and that’s why his price is so big, but the time of his Punchestown victory in November stacks up very well against the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle won by State Man (State Man was carrying 12lbs more) and he can outrun his odds.

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