Wednesday 17 January 2018

Punchestown 2015: Expect classy Douvan to deliver in the Herald

Ruby Walsh after winning on Douvan in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham Festival
Ruby Walsh after winning on Douvan in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham Festival

Douvan looks set to become the latest classy type to win the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle as racing gets underway at Punchestown today for the Irish National Hunt Festival.

Winning for the third time in as many starts since he joined Willie Mullins at Cheltenham, Douvan eclipsed the field in the Supreme Novices’ with a brilliant all-round performance. While Sizing John ran a fine race to be third, it is difficult to suggest any reason as to why the places may be reversed on this occasion.

The BoyleSports Champion Chase is a real intriguing affair and could well be one of the most competitive Grade One races of the entire week with cases being made for so many of the 10-runner field.

Connections of Hidden Cyclone still seek that illusive Grade One triumph with the 10-year-old who showed his liking for the track when winning the Tied Cottage Chase but back over two-miles could be the key for Willie Mullins’ Champagne Fever and despite his below-par performance at Aintree, he is a tentative selection for this race.

The Festival kicks off with three Grade One races on the opening day and the leading staying novice chasers in the country will do battle in the Growise Champion Novice Chase.

If RSA winner Don Poli turns up in the same sort of form as he was in at Cheltenham he could potentially give the Mullins team a clean-sweep in the Grade Ones.

Proceedings begin with the Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase over the famous Punchestown banks course which is the foundation of what brings us all here this week.

Peter Maher took this race a few years ago with subsequent Cheltenham winner Big Shu and he offers the each way value in this race with Serious Times.

Dysios makes plenty of appeal in the Killashee Handicap Hurdle as he reverts back from fences and the Herald’s Katie Walsh may be celebrating after the last when she rides Coeur Joyeux for Sandra Hughes.

Cronin's Choice

Punchestown Today

3.40 Serious Times

4.20 Douvan

4.55 Dysios

5.30 Champagne Fever

6.05 Petit Mouchoir

6.40 Don Poli

7.15 Coeur Joyeux

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