Grand ambitions to be realised in BoyleSports National Trial at Punchestown
Free entry for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National to winner of Sunday's feature contest
A total of 40 horses remain in the €100,000 BoyleSports National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown this Sunday with the winner of the feature race gaining a free entry into the Irish Grand National courtesy of sponsors BoyleSports.
The renowned three and a half mile National Trial, which looks set to provide racegoers with one of the trickiest puzzles of the season so far, has attracted a host of familiar names headed by last year’s winner Folsom Blue and Baie Des Iles, trained locally by Ross O’Sullivan, who won this race in 2017 and finished third twelve months ago.
Tipperary-based trainer Denis Hogan is hoping to run his classy mare Youcantcallherthat who enjoyed a tremendous time last season when winning at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level. The eight-year-old was last in action when taking third in a handicap hurdle at Cork in December.
“She has been running over hurdles but I wasn’t disappointed at Cork because she was beaten by two horses who have both come out and won since and it was only over two and a half miles,” said Hogan.
“I’d be looking forward to getting her back over fences and a longer trip and this is a race that mares have a good record in. If we just get a bit of rain I’d be hopeful that she’ll run a nice race and then hopefully she will get an entry in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.”
Gordon Elliott’s Folsom Blue, who also won the race in 2014, recorded a length and a half success over Isleofhopendreams in this race last year and he is among nine entries for the trainer who could also rely on last season’s Irish BoyleSports Grand National hero General Principle and the recent Thyestes Chase second Alpha Des Obeaux.
“We’ve left a good few in and we’ll just see how things are looking later in the week with the weather. It’s possible Folsom Blue could run again. He ran well over hurdles at Sandown at the weekend and he’s come out of that race in good shape. I’d hope that we will be well represented on Sunday it’s a great pot and I’d love to win it again,” commented Elliott.
Isleofhopendreams is also entered in the race for champion trainer Willie Mullins. The 12-year-old was second in this race last year before also finishing runner-up to General Principle in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National and then to Wounded Warrior in the BoyleSports Handicap Chase at the Punchestown Festival. Gavin Cromwell's Raz De Maree is another popular veteran who could appear in Punchestown's feature race on Sunday.
Leon Blanche of BoyleSports said: "Having witnessed Folsom Blue win this race last year and then prove quite unlucky not to win the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday it proves that this Punchestown race is a very noteworthy trial for the big event itself. BoyleSports will be giving a free entry for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National to the winner of Sunday's race and judging by the entries it looks like that added bonus will be hard earned."
Earlier on the card the Listed I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle has attracted some decent types. Jessica Harrington could rely on Press Conference who accounted for the well touted Annamix at Limerick over Christmas while Henry de Bromhead’s team includes the impressive Down Royal maiden hurdle winner Sinoria. Meanwhile Gordon Elliott could give the promising Fairyhouse winner and Cheltenham Festival entry Chosen Mate his second start, while four time winner Prince D'Aubrelle looks the pick of three Willie Mullins-trained entries.
Sunday’s card kicks off with the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase where Enda Bolger could field the cross country specialist Josies Orders while Willie Mullins has entered the multiple graded race winner Ballycasey.
The ground at Punchestown is good to yielding on the chase course, good, good to yielding in places on the hurdle course and good on the cross country course. The first on a seven race card on Sunday is due off at 1.40pm and further details can be found on www.punchestown.com.