Nine Runners Go For Gold in Wednesday’s Showpiece
25th Apr 2022
25th Apr 2022
Nine Runners go for Punchestown Gold in Wednesday’s Showpiece
A field of nine runners, all of whom are Grade 1 winners and with a total of 26 Grade 1 races won between them, will fight it out for Wednesday’s Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup.
Last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux, who is partly owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, returns in a bid to try and repeat his Aintree/Punchestown double from 12 months ago for Paul Nicholls. The English raider will face dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo and last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Minella Indo for Henry de Bromhead.
Robbie Power renews his association with Minella Indo who had to settle for second place behind stable companion A Plus Tard in his Cheltenham Gold Cup defence last month.
“He ran a great race in the Gold Cup to be a clear runner-up,” trainer Henry de Bromhead said. “He’s been great since. He’s in really good form and seems to thrive at this time of year. We’re really looking forward to getting him out.
“He beat Allaho a couple of years ago in the three-mile novice hurdle at Punchestown but missed out on following up on his Cheltenham Gold Cup win last year with a stone bruise.
“We know he likes the track and that he enjoys this time of year. He’s tough out so I think it might even benefit him to be coming back to Punchestown.”
Even with Al Boum Photo in the mix, Ryanair Chase winner Allaho arguably leads the Willie Mullins assault on the race, as part of a team that also includes Ryanair Chase runner-up Janidil, King George winner Tornado Flyer and Kemboy, who memorably gave Ruby Walsh the final winner of his illustrious career on this very stage in 2019.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’oudairies returns to three miles after his Aintree romp earlier this month, while Savills Chase winner Galvin, will try to give Gordon Elliott a second win in the race, seven years after Don Cossack triumphed.
“Galvin is in great form,” said Elliott. “We had him on Mornington beach at the weekend just giving him a day away and keeping him fresh, but he seems to be in good order since Cheltenham.
“This is a proper Gold Cup on Wednesday and it’ll be a tough race but since he won at Punchestown at the start of the season and went on to win the Savills at Christmas, Galvin has earned the right to be a Gold Cup horse.
“My best day at Punchestown was when we won the Gold Cup there with Don Cossack and look, hopefully Galvin will run a big race, if he was to win it would be a great way to end the season but we are looking forward to seeing how he goes.”
The big clashes come thick and fast on Wednesday as The Nice Guy, winner of the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham heads the 11-strong field for the Grade 1 Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle. Minella Cocooner, who was second to The Nice Guy on that occasion will try to turn the tables, while recent Fairyhouse winner Bronn and Ramillies form a formidable team for champion trainer Wille Mullins.
Minella Crooner is an interesting contender having missed Cheltenham following a setback.
“It was disappointing that Minella Crooner missed Cheltenham but it was just a minor issue and he didn’t miss much time, he just ran out of time before Cheltenham,” Elliott said. “He’s in good nick and it’s good to have him going there on Wednesday. Hopefully he runs his race.”
Elliott also runs Hollow Games, while Paul Nolan will saddle the progressive Daily Present and John McConnell’s Bardenstown Lad also brings strong form having been third to The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner at Cheltenham.
The field for the opening Grade 1 on day two of the Punchestown Festival is completed by Good Time Jonny and Meet And Greet.
In the Grade 1 Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion Bumper Facile Vega and American Mike renew their rivalry in what promises to be a Champion Bumper to remember. Two of the best bumper horses of the season with two of the best amateurs Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd go head-to-head with seven other rivals.
Willie Mullins saddles five of the runners with Madmansgame, Redemption Day, Seabbank Bistro and Viva Devito all declared alongside Facile Vega.
The Paul Nolan-trained Sandor Clegane, the Paul Hennessy-trained Ocean Of Mercy and Stuart Crawford’s Carnfunnock add plenty of intrigue to the only Grade 1 bumper run in Ireland.
Crawford also saddles the impressive looking Lily Du Berlais in the Grade 3 Weatherbys GSB EBF Mares’ bumper, taking on two-time winner The Model Kingdom for Noel Meade.