Katie Walsh: My fancies for the opening day at Punchestown
The Betway ambassador runs through the card to reveal her horses to watch on the opening day of a week that she believes will provide 'stories galore'.
I absolutely love the Punchestown Festival – it means so much to the whole family. We’ve all enjoyed plenty of success there over the years and it was where both Ruby and I retired.
Punchestown marks the end of the National Hunt season and it’s always a week of hugely competitive racing. It’s great that we get to see some of the best horses in action one more time before they go off to enjoy their summer.
There is some unbelievable prize money on offer, so you’ll always get the best, and we’ve been served up the clash we’ve all been waiting for with Envoi Allen taking on Monkfish.
With both the jockeys’ and amateurs’ championship titles still up for grabs, there will be stories galore to come from this week.
Tuesday at Punchestown
Ya Ya Baby looks fairly handicapped in the opener (15:40). She has clearly improved with each start and was a good winner in a big-field maiden hurdle at Cork earlier in the month.
She’s got plenty of racing experience from her time on the flat and that may help her in this race, which will be full of hustle and bustle.
Echoes In Rain gets the weight allowance from the boys and I think that will be the difference in the 16:15.
Patrick [Mullins] will be wanting (and needing) plenty of winners this week and this improving mare might be the horse to give him his first. Her win beating Belfast Banter at Naas has really worked out.
Ruaille Buaille has run well in some very good races this season and we’ve all seen how well the form of that race at Leopardstown has worked out. She’s improved without winning but has got the experience and I think she should go well in the 16:50.
Mark Walsh also rides Magic Tricks who finished one place ahead of Ruaille Buaille at Fairyhouse last time and they shouldn’t be far away, either.
I think we’re yet to see the best of him and you can see him coming to join in at the last.
Although he was beaten fair and square in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Chacun Pour Soi is still a super horse with plenty of ability and I think Punchestown will suit him well.
He’s got bags of speed and his jumping is often impeccable, too. Allaho won’t be easy to beat, but I think this test may suit Chacun Pour Soi better (17:25).
I thought we were going to have to wait until December to see Envoi Allen against this horse.
But we're being treated to a clash with Monkfish in the Champion Novice Chase (18:30) – it’s box office!
They are two exceptional horses with enormous amounts of ability but I’m sticking with Monkfish who is proven over 3m. He wasn’t at his best at Cheltenham but still managed to win and that gives me the belief he’ll come out on top again.
I love the Ladies Cup (19:00). I’ve had some fantastic spins in the race and have been lucky enough to win it.
Talking of winning it, Enda Bolger has claimed seven of the last 10 runnings, which is an amazing record.
Youcannotbeserious was runner-up in 2019 and will have been prepared to the day. He’ll be very hard to beat.
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