Katie Walsh: Al Boum Photo can take Punchestown Gold Cup
The Betway ambassador reflects on the Irish Grand National and discusses all the major talking points for Tuesday and Wednesday of the Punchestown Festival.
Punchestown is always a fantastic week. The course is only around five miles as the crow flies from our house and it’s a massive deal in this area.
I remember as a kid that we used to get time off school in the afternoon so we could go racing. I’ve been going there since I was very young and it’s been a lucky track for me.
It was obviously an emotional day when I retired at this meeting last year after winning on Antey, although it doesn’t feel like a year ago. It was special that my last ride and winner was for Willie Mullins who did so much for my career.
The ground should be lovely for the first day on Tuesday. We had some rain last week and hopefully we’ll get a bit more over the next few days. Punchestown do a very good job with the ground, though.
Willie always does well at this meeting. He really supports it and will be running two or three in most races.
After a quiet Fairyhouse it was nice to see Gordon Elliott have four winners in Sligo on Sunday. It shows his horses are back in form and I’m sure he’ll be running plenty during the week.
Ruby missed out on the meeting last year because of injury but he’s had a great time of it lately, winning the Irish National and some nice winners at Aintree. He’s riding out of his skin and I’m sure he can’t wait for it.
Punchestown on Tuesday
The meeting gets underway with the Ladies Cup (15:40) where Ross runs Any Time with Tom Harney riding.
The banks are synonymous with Punchestown and this is a lovely race to ride in. Ross won it in 2008 on Wedger Pardy for Dad and then I won it the following year on the same horse.
The mare has schooled well and she jumps the banks well. Hopefully Tom will enjoy it and have a bit of fun. It’s a great festival for amateur jockeys.
It’s very hard to look beyond Klassical Dream in the Champion Novice Hurdle (16:20), he was very impressive at Cheltenham.
I think Felix Desjy was a little bit lucky in Aintree and I’m sure he won’t be getting that lead again on Tuesday.
Ruby will get a lovely lead into the race off him and he is going to be hard to beat. He’s a very short price, though.
Min got into a lovely rhythm in Aintree, he jumped brilliantly and did it all so easily. It was a career best performance and if he reproduces that he’ll win the Champion Chase (17:30).
They will go a strong gallop with Un De Sceaux and Great Field in there, but Min didn’t have a hard race last time. He’s been very unlucky to have faced Altior and is a very good horse on his own merits.
I expect Delta Work to win the Champion Novice Chase (18:40). I thought he was a bit unlucky at Cheltenham and probably should have won.
A Plus Tard was off the charts in the Close Brothers, it was an exceptional performance. His best form is left-handed, though.
It will be a very interesting race to watch but I’d be siding with Delta Work.
Punchestown on Wednesday
The three-mile novice hurdle looks a very open race. Ruby has gone with Allaho over Carefully Selected and that is a tip in itself.
Carefully Selected has only run once because of the quick ground but conditions should be fine on Wednesday. Like most of these, he is a real chaser in the making.
Minella Indo caused a shock in the Albert Bartlett, but it was a good performance and Commander Of Fleet and Allaho both ran well to be placed.
I’ll go with Carefully Selected , though, as he comes here fresh and was second in the bumper at Cheltenham last year.
The big race on Wednesday is the Punchestown Gold Cup (18:05) and I think Al Boum Photo will be very hard to beat. He was a good Gold Cup winner and has had a break since then.
Ruby has gone for Kemboy which you can understand as he won well at Aintree. If there is something to beat Al Boum Photo, it’s probably Kemboy.
Bellshill won the race last year but he was disappointing in the Gold Cup. He comes here a fresh horse and obviously likes the track.
Delighted for Ruby and Willie in the Irish National
It was a shame that Any Second Now fell in the Irish National, he just seemed to change his mind for whatever reason. He’s come out of it fresh and well.
It was great for Ruby and Willie to win it with Burrows Saint. It’s a very good race for novices and you could have called him the winner a long way out.
Our Duke went on to be a proper Grade One horse after winning this and it’s hard for the handicapper to get a grasp of them.
It was a huge performance by the winner and as a six-year-old he’s only going to improve.
Splitting my time between Punchestown and Newmarket
I’m at Punchestown for the start and the end of the week but off to Newmarket in between for the sales.
I’m going there with a nice bunch and hopefully we can find them all good homes.
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