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Gary O’Brien: 5 selections for Wednesday at Punchestown

01 May | BY Gary O’Brien | MIN READ TIME |
Gary O’Brien: 5 selections for Wednesday at Punchestown

The horse racing broadcaster makes his picks for the second day of the Punchestown Festival, and is predicting a defeat for Galopin Des Champs.


Big field handicaps have been a theme of the opening two days but despite the small matter of having 24 rivals to overcome WALK AWAY HARRY / stands out off bottom weight in the opener. Successful in a bumper at last year’s festival, the six year-old has been a slow burner over hurdles so far but handicaps were always likely to be his ultimate aim and connections will no doubt be delighted to have crept in at the foot of the weights here. An eye-catching third at Cork last month – his first start since Christmas – should have left him ready to peak now. Race sponsor JP McManus has captured three of the last four renewals and his representative this time Park Of Kings is easily the most appealing of the remainder. He shaped really well in a hot three-mile contest at the Dublin Racing Festival when last seen and can compete off the same mark now.


Mistergif heads the market here and this is clearly a major drop in class after his creditable efforts in Grade 1 company at Cheltenham and Aintree. However Nicky Henderson’s decision to potentially blow an attractive handicap mark with EAST INDIA EXPRESS / is notable and he is preferred each-way at the prices. A dual Kempton scorer, he conceded first run to a useful sort at Newbury when last seen in February but was closing that one down late on and his absence since then is probably a positive given the yard’s well documented travails during March.


I’m keen to be against the market principals here and the vote goes to LECKY WATSON / , who is better than the bare form of his Cheltenham run last time suggests. Being held up in that Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle looked a distinct disadvantage and in the circumstances the Valirann gelding was far from disgraced in finishing fifth. He was less than a length behind his better-placed stable-mate Dancing City, who has since had a very hard race when winning at Aintree, and had beaten the winner Stellar Story when pushing subsequent Supreme Novices hero Slade Steel close at Navan in December. He looks overpriced.


Galopin Des Champs has enjoyed a wonderful season and is difficult to oppose as he bids to end the campaign on a high but FASTORSLOW / famously got the better of him in this last year and at the prices looks worth chancing to repeat the dose. Martin Brassil’s stable star appeared to be travelling very well when parting company with JJ Slevin six from home at Cheltenham but the silver lining is that he was spared a hard race, and at the very least he should be able to put it up to his old rival. He was ridden rather conservatively when unable to match the Mullins inmate at Leopardstown in February and more positive tactics will surely be utilised today.


Some smart mares lock horns in the finale but at a big price SPECULATRIX / can go well. Gordon Elliott’s charge was thrown in at the deep end on her return from over a year on the sidelines when seventh in a Grade 2 at Aintree three weeks ago and actually ran better than the distance beaten (7 1/2 lengths) might suggest.

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Gary O’Brien

Gary O’Brien

Widely known as ‘the voice of Irish racing’, Gary is a horse racing broadcaster, presenter, and enthusiastic racehorse owner.

Gary O’Brien

Gary O’Brien

Widely known as ‘the voice of Irish racing’, Gary is a horse racing broadcaster, presenter, and enthusiastic racehorse owner.