The feature race on Tuesday’s opening card of the Punchestown Festival has to be the Punchestown Champion Chase. Energumene will be hoping to follow up his Cheltenham Festival win but last years winner Chacun Pour Soi will make things interesting! See our runner-by-runner guide and how we think the race will pan out. ↓
Energumene (Willie Mullins, Paul Townend) 8/11
After winning the Champion Chase at Cheltenham Festival, Energumene is arguably the star in two-miler division. Having only lost once in a thrilling Clarence House Chase at Ascot, Willie Mullins’ star proved his doubters with a dominant display at the Festival and established himself as one of the stars of the NH season.
Ridden patiently at the Festival proved to be a smart move by Paul Townend, as he cruised to an eight-length victory over Funambule Sivola. He will have to be at his best to beat Chacun Pour Soi, but he has always given his all this season and there’s no reason for that to change here.
Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins, Patrick Mullins) 13/8
This horse is a different animal when racing back in Ireland. His three visits to England have seen him lose each time, where as he has only lost once in Ireland – and that was against Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard!
Both visits to this course have resulted in wins, including an emphatic victory in this race last year. He beat Ryanair Chase winner Allaho by five and a half lengths – the only time Allaho has been defeated since 2020!
He looked likely to finish in the top two in the Champion Chase last month, but for unseating five out. A faultless round of jumping here should set up for an almighty finish between the Mullins runners.
Envoi Allen (Henry De Bromhead, Rachael Blackmore) 16/1
If only he could get back to his Novice days! He hasn’t quite looked the same horse since that fall in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last year, but he has shown glimpses of his class.
He is a Grade 1 winner this season, winning the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, but that was a poor quality Grade 1 which features just two other runners. He did look like he could be back to his best when leading in the Champion Chase last month, but he couldn’t find any extra in the run in and ended up finishing thirteen lengths behind Energumene and settling for a third placed finish.
It would be some effort were he to reverse that form with Energumene, and it’s difficult to see him finishing ahead of Chacun Pour Soi. Third place may be the best he can muster.
Andy Dufresne (Gordon Elliott, Mark Walsh) 20/1
Gordon Elliott’s sole representative Andy Dufresne hasn’t won since 2020 but has still put in some solid performances.
He lost nothing in defeat in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last month, finishing a three length runner-up to Global Citizen (who he was giving over a stone in weight). Before that he finished behind a rival in this race in Captain Guinness, but was giving him 7lb that day and they race off equal weights in this.
It would be a bit of a shock were he to get the better of either of the Mullins runners, but he could be there to pick up the pieces if either underperform.
Captain Guinness (Henry De Bromhead, Davy Russell) 33/1
This may prove to be another step too far for Henry De Bromhead’s gelding. Captain Guinness has raced three times in Grade 1 company this season, finishing 3rd, 3rd and 6th.
The step back to two miles will benefit him, but he will still need to find almost SEVENTEEN lengths to get the better of Chacun Pour Soi, going on their Dublin Chase form.
The fact Rachael Blackmore has chose to ride Envoi Allen in this should be a tip in itself. He would have to improve immensely to challenge in this, and it would be no surprise to see him finish behind all four rivals here.
This is going to be superb to watch, as two of Willie Mullins’ stars go head to head. Energumene has had a season to remember and gets our verdict over his stable companion Chacun Pour Soi, who will likely chase him home.
1 – Energumene
2 – Chacun Pour Soi
3 – Envoi Allen
4 – Andy Dufresne
5 – Captain Guinness