The Week Ahead – What Racing To Focus On This Week

Honeysuckle winning at 2021 Punchestown FestivalHoneysuckle winning at 2021 Punchestown Festival

We’re in for a treat this week! Five days of fantastic racing at Punchestown Festival, plus it’s Guineas weekend!

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See all the key meetings and races this week in our weekly guide ↓


Monday

It’s a busy start to the week, with SIX meetings to kick us off. The pick of the action comes over in Ireland, with the feature race being the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas (6:15). There’s some big names in the race, including last year’s Group 1 Flying Five winner Romantic Proposal and last year’s winner Mooniesta.

Romantic Proposal

Romantic Proposal is our pick to win the feature race on Monday at Naas.

Elsewhere, William Buick will be hoping to continue his superb form with a trio of rides at Windsor:

  • Noble Masquerade (6:25)
  • Flyin’ High (6:55)
  • Cosmic Desert (7:25)

The four other meetings on Monday are at Ayr, Lingfield, Southwell and Thirsk.


Tuesday

There’s a trio of Grade 1 races on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival. Some of the stars on the card include:

  • Energumene
  • Chacun Pour Soi
  • Sir Gerhard
  • Dysart Dynamo
  • Bob Olinger
  • Capodanno
  • Party Central
  • Dinoblue
Paul Townend on board Energumene

Energumene can follow up his Cheltenham Festival victory with a win on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.

Energumene vs Chacun Pour Soi.

Sir Gerhard vs Dysart Dynamo.

Bob Olinger stepping up to 3 miles for the first time.

Safe to say we can’t wait for it to start!


Wednesday

Day Two of the Punchestown Festival and there’s another three Grade 1 races to look forward to. The pick of the action is the Punchestown Gold Cup (5:55), featuring the likes of Allaho, Clan Des Obeaux, Minella Indo and Fakir D’oudairies, in what is going to be an absolute cracker of a race!

Allaho winning at Cheltenham Festival

Ryanair Chase winner Allaho heads the betting for the Punchestown Gold Cup.

The Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (5:20) is another thrilling race, with Mullins duo The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner set to face off again. The Nice Guy won the previous race between them in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, but he may have a new challenge with Gordon Elliott’s Minella Crooner, who missed the Cheltenham Festival and arrives here fresh.

The third Grade 1 race is the Punchestown Champion I.N.H Flat Race (6:30), where Facile Vega will bid to confirm Cheltenham Festival running with American Mike. That race was on heavy ground, so it will be interesting to see if the race will pan out the same way on better ground this time.

Elsewhere, Ascot plays host to it’s first Flat meeting of the season, with it’s Royal Ascot Trials day. Last year saw two horses win on Trials Day before following up at Royal Ascot:

  • Chipotle (went on to win the Windsor Castle Stakes)
  • Rohaan (went on to win the Wokingham Stakes)

There’s bound to be some clues for Royal Ascot winners on the card again this year.


Thursday

The Champion Stayers’ Hurdle (5:25) is the feature race on Day Three of the Punchestown Festival – can Klassical Dream retain his crown? It won’t be easy for him, with Paisley Park coming over from Britain and Aintree Stayers Hurdle winner Sire Du Berlais in the mix.

The second Grade 1 on the card is the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase (6:35), and it looks set to be another close race with Gentleman De Mee, Gabynako and Blue Lord set to line up. Gentleman De Mee arguably has the best form, having won the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree earlier in the month, but could this race come too soon for him to follow up?

Gentleman De Mee at Aintree

Can Gentleman De Mee follow up his win at Aintree?

Elsewhere, the pick of the UK action comes from Chelmsford, as they host the Listed Chelmer Fillies’ Stakes (6:20). Richard Hannon won the race last year with Happy Romance, and he looks to have another big chance this year with Symphony Perfect.


Friday

With no Constitution Hill in the line up, it would be a big upset if Honeysuckle didn’t retain her crown in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle (5:25). Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten superstar will be in plenty of ‘banker’ acca’s for the week, and it will surely take something special from one of her rivals to see her lose. Her biggest threat looks set to come from Aintree winner Epatante, who chased her home in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

Honeysuckle winning Champion Hurdle Cheltenham Festival 2022

Honeysuckle will again look to get the better of Epatante, after beating her at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.

The other Grade 1 race is the Champion Novice Hurdle (6:00), where Willie Mullins’ impressive Cheltenham Festival winner State Man is set to line up and will no doubt prove a popular pick.

Elsewhere, it’s Day One of Newmarket’s Guineas Festival, and the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes (3:35) is the feature on the opening card. Charlie Appleby and William Buick have started the season in some serious form, and team up with hot favourite Yibir in the feature.


Saturday

It’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas Day at Newmarket.

The 2,000 Guineas (3:40) looks set to be a cracker – Native Trail was hugely impressive when winning the Craven Stakes earlier in the month and is a deserved favourite to win on Saturday. However, he faces a more difficult task here with the likes of Luxembourg and Perfect Power lining up. One things for sure, it’s going to be one hell of a race!

Native Trail winning the Craven Stakes 2022

Can last year’s champion juvenile Native Trail win the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday?

It’s also the final day of the Punchestown Festival, where there’s another two Grade 1 races to look forward to. The Champion Four Year Old (4:25) will be a hotly contested race, with Vauban bidding to follow up his Triumph Hurdle win and confirm form with Fil Dor and Pied Piper.

The other Grade 1 is the Mares Champion Hurdle (3:50), where Cheltenham Festival scorer Marie’s Rock could again face the likes of Telmesomethinggirl, Stormy Island and Echoes In Rain.


Sunday

Tenebrism winning the Cheveley Park Stakes 2021

Tenebrism looks set to go off as favourite for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.

With no Inspiral in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, the betting is headed by AP O’Brien’s Tenebrism, who was a comfortable winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes last year. However, she’s never raced over more than six furlongs before so her stamina will be put to the test. The Irish look set to dominate with the likes of Discoveries, Homeless Songs and Tuesday also prominent in the betting.

There’s also the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes (3:00) and Listed Pretty Polly Stakes (2:25) on the card, on what is a fitting way to end a superb week of racing!