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2019 Punchestown Festival tips – Tips for the three Grade Ones on day one at Punchestown

A view of the racecourse on day one of the Punchestown Festival.

Our expert takes a look through every race on day one of the Punchestown Festival and provides readers with his tips on Tuesday 30th April.

The final major Festival of the National Hunt season will hit our screens at the end of this month, as Punchestown racecourse welcomes jumps racing’s finest through their gates for four days of fantastic racing. Eleven Grade Ones will be up for grabs during the Punchestown Festival, with the first three of those being staged on the opening Tuesday.

Our expert has taken a look through the ante-post betting for all three Grade Ones on day one at Punchestown and provided readers with his tips.

2019 Punchestown Festival Day One Tips

4:20pm Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m½f

Felix Desjy hung on valiantly to beat Aramon at Aintree, despite a terrible blunder fourth hurdles from home. Both the winner and runner-up from that Grade One, plus surprise entrant Champagne Platinum, have to be given a chance. The style in which KLASSICAL DREAM scored in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, however, casts a shadow over his rivals and I think we’re dealing with an extremely classy horse.

Ruby Walsh’s mount wasn’t the name on everyone’s lips heading into Cheltenham, despite edging out Aramon in a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival on his second start for the yard. Ruby Walsh’s mount carried a 6/1 price-tag to post and looked very keen in the early going, with his head bowed in peculiar fashion. 

Klassical Dream jumped his way to the front at the fifth obstacle, with challengers stacked up in behind. As the field descended the hill, rider after rider came off the bridle. Walsh, however, sat motionless throughout the trip and Klassical Dream stamped his authority on the race in the closing stages, bolting up to win in impressive fashion. A repeat of that performance would be enough to win at Punchestown, and win rather comfortably.

5:30pm BoyleSports Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m

A powerful victory in the Melling Chase at Aintree earned Min a career-high rating of 172 and it’s no surprise to see Willie Mullins’ charge head the betting here. Min could be hard to beat, if in the same mood we saw at Aintree. Yet, I don’t think Ruby Walsh’s mount beat that much at Aintree and the image of Min being severely outpaced in the Champion Chase, and in this race last year, cannot be dispelled from the mind.

Douvan hasn’t been seen since finishing second in this race last year and I highly doubt whether he will run. Footpad will have a huge point to prove if he does drop back to two miles, having flopped in the Ryanair on his most recent run. That leaves UN DE SCEAUX as Min’s primary challenger and I think it’s well worth siding with last year’s winner.

Few gave Mullins’ eleven-year-old much of a chance in with Douvan and Min last season, but Un De Sceaux rolled back the years to claim victory after a superb round of jumping. The nine-time Grade One winner has only been out twice this term, losing to Altior at Sandown before a decent fifth in the Ryanair. 

Those performance suggest Un De Sceaux retains much of his ability and Mullins’ stable star has been beaten just once in five outings here at Punchestown. 9/2 looks an appealing price.

6:40pm Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) 3m½f

Delta Work is the obvious selection here, having secured two Grade One victories during an impressive novice chasing campaign. Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old was found a little wanting in the final stages of the RSA at Cheltenham, finishing a little one-paced back in third, but he should be better suited by the track here at Punchestown.

A Plus Tard was one of the most visually impressive winners at Cheltenham, cantering to victory in the Close Brothers and the step up to three miles could be ideal. Henry De Bromhead had said earlier in the season that his youngster prefers left-handed tracks so, with question marks against the top two in the betting, an each-way punt could be the way to go.

Any Second Now was backed into favouritism for the Irish Grand National and, although he fell fairly early at Fairyhouse, he could be a profitable option. The one I prefer, however, is CHRIS'S DREAM, who's a guaranteed stayer over three miles and has much more to give than what we saw at Aintree last time out.

Henry De Bromhead decided to swerve the RSA at Cheltenham in favour of a tilt at the Mildmay Novices' Chase. Rachael Blackmore took her customary position at the rear of the field, but Chris's Dream failed to jump with any fluency that day and laboured over the line as the last of the five finishers.

Before that run, Chris's Dream had taken to fences nicely - staying on well to finish second to the superb Ballyward at Naas, before outstaying Champagne Classic to win the Ten Up Chase at Navan. De Bromhead's seven-year-old goes well on decent ground and has winning form on right-handed tracks. He looks overpriced at 16/1.

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2019 Punchestown Festival tips – Tips for the three Grade Ones on day one at Punchestown

Our expert takes a look through every race on day one of the Punchestown Festival and provides readers with his tips on Tuesday 30th April.

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