Our ‘Banker’ Acca for the 2022 Punchestown Festival
We’ve picked out our ‘banker’ accumulator across the five days of the Punchestown Festival. Check out who we’re siding with and our reasons behind each selection, or you can add it to your bet slip with one click here.
Energumene (Champion Chase – Tuesday 26th April 5:25pm) 4/6
Willie Mullins’ ENERGUMENE can start us off with a winner on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival. His performance in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham was hugely impressive, and Paul Townend can steer him to further glory here.
He has been a joy to watch all season, with his only defeat coming at the hands of Shishkin in the thrilling Clarence House Chase at Ascot back in January. His sole performance at Punchestown came in the Ryanair Novice Chase and he couldn’t have been more impressive, winning at a canter.
The likely challenge will probably come from stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, but he’s a ten-year-old now and we’d rather side with the younger Energumene to cap off a memorable season with another Grade 1 victory.
Facile Vega (Champion I.N.H Flat Race – Wednesday 27th April 6:30pm) 8/11
The next selection is another of Willie Mullins’ stable stars – FACILE VEGA. He was a convincing winner in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. It was hyped up as a two-horse race between Facile Vega and American Mike, but the latter just couldn’t handle the speed of Willie Mullins’ gelding.
Unbeaten in his three career starts, Facile Vega has never really looked like losing once Patrick Mullins pushes the button on him, and there’s no reason to see that changing again here. He has won his three races by a combined 21 lengths, and has yet to have a real challenge to face – we’re expecting a similar outcome in this.
His biggest danger will likely be American Mike again, but it would be a surprise if he could reverse that Cheltenham form. Willie Mullins has another star on his hands!
Klassical Dream (Champion Stayers Hurdle – Thursday 28th April 5:25pm) 5/2
This isn’t the strongest renewal of the Champion Stayers Hurdle and last years winner KLASSICAL DREAM can take advantage of that.
After running out a convincing winner of the race last season, he started this season in similar fashion when beating Flooring Porter in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He was then beaten at odds-on at Gowran Park but that run may just have come too soon for him, less than a month after his win at Leopardstown.
He was then sent off as favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but couldn’t handle the sheer staying power of Flooring Porter and ended up finishing fifth. There’s no Flooring Porter in here, and he can reverse form with Paisley Park and Champ.
Those two are likely to be his biggest rivals again, but if Klassical Dream can replicate last years performance he should be winning this.
Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle – Friday 29th April 5:25pm) 1/5
With the unsurprising news that Constitution Hill won’t be lining up in the race, it would be a huge shock if anything could come close to HONEYSUCKLE. HAd Nicky Henderson’s star been declared in the race, it would’ve been one of the races of the season and could have given Honeysuckle a real scare. But it wasn’t to be, and realistically there doesn’t seem to be anything in the same class as Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare.
With a perfect 15-15 record, Honeysuckle has been nothing short of a superstar in the Hurdling division and there is no reason to think she will change the habit of a lifetime and lose this. She has already beaten the majority of those who are going to line up here at some point in the season, including beating five of those entered when winning the Champion Hurdle for a second successive year at Cheltenham back in March.
She won this race last year and has always been in control of her three races this year. There is simply nothing in the field that has caught our eye to challenge her in this, so we’re in no doubt she can make it successive victories in the race and maintain her unbeaten status yet again.
Sir Gerhard (Champion Novice Hurdle – Friday 29th April) 8/11
Next on the acca is SIR GERHARD, who found the step up in trip no issue as he ran out a comfortable winner in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle when last seen. If, as expected, Willie Mullins keeps him at this kind of distance he should take the world of beating in this.
The only horse to come close to him in that was Three Stripe Life, and he has since come out and won the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree earlier this month to further boost the form. Sir Gerhard has won all three Hurdle races in his career, and has looked impressive in each outing.
Likely challengers include stablemates Kilcruit, who failed to impress when a distant third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and State Man, who is yet to race over more than 2m 1f. Everything points towards another victory for Sir Gerhard and he’s a confident pick on Day 4 of the Punchestown Festival.
Vauban (Champion Four Year Old Hurdle – Saturday 30th April 4:25pm) 4/7
Another race, another Willie Mullins winner. We’re siding with VAUBAN to back up his Triumph Hurdle win at Cheltenham and win again.
Since a jumping error at the last cost him victory in his debut run over hurdles, he hasn’t looked back and has won each of his two races – both at Grade 1 level. He pulled away from both Fil Dor and Pied Piper readily at the Festival last month, and neither could go with him when Paul Townend got him going.
The aforementioned duo will again make sure this is a proper test, but Vauban was so impressive at Cheltenham and we see no reason why that form should be reversed here. Willie Mullins’ has proved why he is seen as the best trainer this season – forget a cabinet, he may need to hire out a new yard just to fit all his trophies in!