It's the second day of the Punchestown festival and Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders is targeting three bets in two of the Grade 1s.
The volume of short-priced -trained favourites at Punchestown this week is staggering and Gaelic Warrior is another warm order for the yard in the Grade 1 Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (5.20) that kicks off Wednesday’s action.
A staying-on second to Impaire Et Passe in the Ballymore last time, Gaelic Warrior is the likeliest winner on form, although is unproven over this three-mile trip and looks a little too short at the early prices for my liking.
The horse to back each-way against the favourite is the Gordon Elliott-trained Salvador Ziggy, a proven stayer who ran a massive race off top weight when second in the Pertemps Final behind Good Time Jonny at the Cheltenham Festival last time.
That was Salvador Ziggy’s first start in 145 days and he is entitled to step forward from it. Given Salvador Ziggy’s freshness, experience, stamina and generally high-class form, it would be a major surprise if he finished out of the first three.
Form earned in top-class handicaps by novices can often be underestimated when they switch back to novice company, and this tough sort, who had the option of the open-company Grade 1 for stayers later in the week, can capitalise in this easier race.
A Dream To Share is all the rage to complete an impressive Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown treble in the Grade 1 Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race (6.30).
This Flat-bred five-year-old was clearly some way ahead of the slow-maturing National Hunt types earlier in the season, but I expect that gap to be closed at Punchestown and Willie Mullins saddles three interesting runners who are all lightly raced and capable of much better granted more experience.
Patrick Mullins has elected to ride Tullyhill, who recorded a deeply impressive success at Gowran Park on his first start under rules in March.
However, the first-string Mullins runners are often overbet at this meeting and this is a big jump in class for Tullyhill following a stylish victory at a much lower level. At the prices, I’d rather side with Tullyhill's stablemates It’s For Me and Western Diego at much bigger odds.
The pair are point-to-point scorers who filled the fifth and seventh positions in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham on just their second bumper outing last time, and neither consented to settle early doors.
That impacted their finishing efforts, although both still emerged with serious credit and that statement is particularly true in the case of Western Diego, who was always prominent but tanked into the race to trade at a low of 3/1 in running before the earlier exertions told.
It’s For Me looked a superstar at Navan before he turned up at Cheltenham and was the choice of Paul Townend among seven other candidates for Mullins in the Champion Bumper. He was ridden in contrasting fashion to Western Diego, held up from off the pace to make up some nice late ground from the rear.
That Grade 1 experience will stand to these youngsters and improved efforts await in a contest that I consider to be more open than the odds suggest.