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Gary O’Brien: Three picks for the final day at Punchestown

03 May | BY Gary O’Brien | MIN READ TIME |
Gary O’Brien: Three picks for the final day at Punchestown

The horse racing broadcaster picks out three selections for Saturday as the Punchestown Festival comes to a close.

Once again, attractive wagers are relatively thin on the ground as the festival goes into its final day and I’ve given the Grade 1 action a swerve in favour of a crack at two of the big field handicaps.

16:15

Glengouly gave a bold show for much of last month’s Randox Grand National but he was beating a retreat when unseating four out and my eye is drawn instead to the unexposed CADATHARLA / . A progressive sort over hurdles last season, he has been something of a slow burner over fences and it was a little surprising to see him made favourite on his handicap bow at Fairyhouse over Easter. Never a factor there over a much shorter distance than ideal, the experience gained ought to at least stand to him now he encounters a more suitable test. His stable has been going through a lengthy barren run but the tide will turn eventually and the likely odds help compensate for that.

17:25

Quite a few of these appeal as being capable of winning off their current marks, and the likes of Gold Dancer and Martin Pipe runner-up Waterford Whispers are not passed over lightly. However my two against the field are OLYMPIC MAN / and ENCANTO BRUNO / .

The latter wouldn’t want the ground to deteriorate too much but after missing a couple of engagements at Cheltenham he at least will be fresh for a crack at this €100,000 contest. Just two runs ago he was one of the market principals for the Royal Bond Novices Hurdle on the back of an impressive start for Gavin Cromwell at Cheltenham in October. He would ultimately disappoint in that Fairyhouse Grade 1 but testing conditions were almost certainly to blame and it was a similar story at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival. The yard has already enjoyed a good week and it could be significant that Sean Flanagan (de facto stable jockey with Keith Donoghue injured) rides Encanto Bruno rather than smart chaser Visionarian.

For 90 per cent of his last start at Fairyhouse it appeared likely that Olympic Man was set to prove himself a handicap blot but he began to paddle after the final flight of that three-miler and was mugged late by outsider Mousey Brown. The third and sixth-placed horses there both performed well in defeat here on Thursday and a 6lb hike for Willie Mullins’ lightly-raced French import doesn’t look insurmountable now that he drops down in distance.

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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.