A hot race over the Banks and Alan Fleming’s HURRICANE DARWIN can win it in style.
He hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the Troytown Chase, but this eight-year-old was in sparkling form before that and demands attention now switched to this discipline.
He hasn’t been given an easy introduction with Enda Bolger’s army of five in opposition, but he should have far too much pace for these cross country regulars and he can really make a name for himself here with the spring festivals on the horizon.
Auvergnat beat a banks newcomer of Alan Fleming’s when winning this last year, but this year’s renewal is a lot stronger and his stablemates Cantlow and Josies Orders are feared more.
TRAINER Gordon Elliott has won this for the last two years and he looks to have a third win wrapped up here with his HARDLINE.
The Gigginstown six-year-old has been plying his trade in Grade 1 company the last twice, finishing third on both occasions and he should find this company a lot less challenging.
Jessica Harrington’s Another Barney picked up in the style of a good horse at Naas and Tom Taaffe thinks a lot of his Riders Onthe Storm, but Elliott’s novice sets a very high standard for them to reach.
He has a similar profile to both of Elliott’s previous winners and like both of them he screams premier handicap lining up for this with a rating of 133.
However, Elliott obviously feels that Graded level is where his Hardline belongs and this looks a confidence booster before a crack at a Grade 1 here in April.
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AN open handicap hurdle that looks a great opportunity for UNDRESSED to bounce back.
The ten-year-old is starting to look well handicapped over hurdles and connections will be hoping that a win here can restore his confidence for a return to fences.
He proved he still had an engine when third in the Cork National in November, he stays all day and has Trevor Ryan aboard taking a further 7lb off his back.
Gordon Elliott’s Swingbridge will be popular after his unlucky third here last month. He would’ve went very close to winning if not for hitting the second last and could make amends.
Benarty Hill hacked up over fences at Down Royal, Danse Away ran well here over shorter and Paper Lantern should also be in the thick of it.
Eamonn Hames’ top tips
1.40 Punchestown – Hurricane Darwin: ‘Could have a big future over these unique obstacles’ (add to your betslip)
2.40 Punchestown – Hardline: ‘Drops in grade and has been running in hot races’ (add to your betslip)
3.15 Punchestown – Undressed: ‘Looks well handicapped and can bounds back’ (add to your betslip)
4.20 Punchestown – Teacher’s Pet: ‘Could thrive for this step up in trip’ (add to your betslip)
A cracking renewal of the Grand National Trial featuring plenty of proven stayers, however it could be worth taking the chance that TEACHER’S PET thrives for this big step up in trip.
The J P McManus-owned mare has been kept to much shorter over fences, but she was very much a stayer over timber and she has no weight on her back.
She had her last race in the bag before tipping up at the last and was thought good enough to have a crack at the Paddy Power Chase before that.
Lighter weights usually come to the fore in these marathon events and she will love this heavy ground.
Mick The Jiver and Woods Well are others with little weight to carry, Baie Des Iles won this in commanding fashion last year and Wounded Warrior ran well in the Thyestes.
Folsom Blue won this in 2014 and has been in great form for Gordon Elliott, Mall Dini has a big pot in him, but needs to jump better and Childrens List is unexposed over staying trips but conditions are a huge concern for him.
1.40 Hurricane Darwin
2.10 High Sparrow
2.40 Hardline (nb)
4.20 Teacher’s Pet (nap)
4.50 Getaway John