Tom Thurgood looks forward to day two at Punchestown and ponders whether some short-priced fancies are opposable on a cracking day of action. Enjoy every moment live on Racing TV and Racing TV Extra.
The Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup headlines the action on day two at Punchestown and, like the other two Grade One contests on the card, looks to have a couple of outstanding candidates resulting in a more open feel in-behind.
The rematch between Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit in the Grade One bumper looks the most obvious match-up, but Al Boum Photo and Clan Des Obeaux hold sway in the betting for Gold Cup honours while the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle is dominated by Cheltenham Festival winners Galopin Des Champs and Vanillier.
Is it possible to take on the big two in their respective races, though?
Here are three that look a little overpriced on a fantastic card.
Crosshill is the 16-1 outsider in this field, but it's contestable whether he should be despite the competition and his relatively modest rating of 138.
He made a fantastic start to his season and looked exciting when winning at Punchestown on hurdles debut in late October over an extended two-and-a-half miles, beating no less than Vanillier by 11 lengths.
Subsequently, too much use was made of him over the minimum trip back at Punchestown and on the heavy ground which doesn’t see him to best effect. He fell at the last in the Lawlor’s Of Naas next time, but he shaped better than the result and was going OK approaching the second-last behind Bob Olinger and Blue Lord before stopping fairly quickly.
While his run last time was in a handicap from a mark of 135, he travelled particularly strongly and was one of the few horses over the entire Fairyhouse Easter Festival to make ground from the back of the field. He did everything but win the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final, getting swamped on the line by the wide challenge of Lady Breffni.
Crosshill is still unexposed at this three-mile distance, while he hasn't had many chances on this ground which he seemingly enjoys. Vanillier was very impressive at Cheltenham and the Martin Pipe profile of Galopin Des Champs has proven potent in this race in recent years, but Crosshill certainly has the ability to shake up the likes of Telmesomethinggirl and Stattler who are significantly shorter prices in the market. He looks overpriced and, with favourable terms, could reward small each-way support.
Kemboy has won twice at this meeting, and there’s a chance he could enjoy himself in the lead again. If he’s not pestered too much out in front, he could prove hard to peg back in the feature Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup.
He finished ninth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time after early mistakes which did not allow him to adopt his favoured tactics, but the evidence suggests Prestbury Park simply isn’t his venue. If you take out his four Cheltemnham runs, his overall form for Willie Mullins reads 12721F11111142221.
He has a good strike-rate in small-field events and he's had a good season, notably when running a fine race in the Savills Chase when looking the winner 100 yards from the finish only to be swamped by the unexposed stayer and subsequent Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard. Kemboy won the Irish Gold Cup on his next start.
Al Boum Photo sets the standard and could inmprove for his Gold Cup run given his light campaign, but Kemboy beat him in the Punchestown Gold Cup two years ago and it wouldn't rate a huge shock if he did the same again. It’s great that Clan Des Obeaux is here after a fine effort at Aintree, but this is a short turnaround and something of an afterthought, as well as now going up against superior opposition.
This revolves around Cheltenham 1-2 Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit, with Sir Gerhard fancied to confirm the Festival form. It looks telling that Patrick Mullins has chosen the Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner this time given his spectacular Dublin Racing Festival success aboard Kilcruit, while Sir Gerhard could once again adopt front-running tactics in a race which lacks pace on paper.
These two are the best horses in the race and this contest doesn’t look so welcoming for each-way purposes, but Ramillies still looks overpriced at 22-1 on his latent ability and there are grounds for thinking he can step forward here on what he’s shown so far.
He shaped much better than the result in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, where he finished eighth but looked second best for much of the journey. He was awkward off the bridle and is not showing his full potential currently, but the application of the first-time tongue tie is interesting.
Since 2010, Willie Mullins has 25 winners from 138 runners with a first-time tongue-tie. However, his strike-rate under this metric has greatly improved in recent seasons. Since 2015, Mullins has sent out 19 winners from 88 runners with a first-time tongue tie, and since the start of last year that jumps to eight winners from 27 runners at a near-30% strike-rate and a level stakes profit of £17.54. Overall, it’s performance 13% above expectation, which is a decent edge given Mullins’ success and his huge number of annual winners.
Ramillies is probably looking at third, but he simply looks a bit too big in the betting at 22-1.We've teamed up with the Flat experts at Timeform to bring you a FREE copy of their latest book - 50 Flat Horses to Follow throughout the 2021 season. Click here to claim yours for FREE!
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