Tuesday’s race of the day – Who will triumph in fascinating hurdles race at Punchestown?

Jon Vine takes a look through the runners in an intriguing hurdles race at Punchestown and provides readers with his tips for Tuesday’s race of the day on Tuesday 31st December.

A former Gold Cup winner and the reigning Irish Grand National winner will lock horns over hurdles at Punchestown this afternoon, in what looks a fascinating little race. I’ve taken a look at each of the seven runners and provided my best bet with Unibet.

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Tuesday’s Race Of The Day

Burrows Saint

Won three times in the final two months of novice chasing campaign, including a terrific triumph in Irish Grand National. Beaten 27 lengths in Drinmore on his reappearance and Mullins has switched back to hurdles for the time being, presumably to try and keep his chasing mark down. Rachael Blackmore takes the ride, but does he have the pace for this trip?

Cracking Smart

Looked a future star at the end of novice campaign. Suffered a set-back before commencing last term and has gone completely off the rails since. Returns to hurdling after four terrible efforts in novice chases. It seems a desperate move from Gordon Elliott, but the horse has plenty of class if he can put it all together.

Kitten Rock

Hasn’t been seen since finishing 14th in the 2018 edition of the Galway Plate. Proved a useful chaser, but was much better over hurdles, winning a couple of Graded prizes over the smaller obstacles in 2015. Only beaten ten lengths behind Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle. Could go well, but 517-day lay-off is offputting.

Saglaawy

Speedy sort, who ended juvenile campaign with a Grade Two triumph at Fairyhouse and a decent third behind Saldier at Punchestown. Wasn’t at his best in two starts over jumps last term and has run three times on the flat during the autumn, reaching a rating of 93. Should stay this trip, but doesn’t offer much appeal at current price.

Former Gold Cup winner, Sizing John returns to action over hurdles at Punchestown.

Sayo

Won a chase by 24 lengths at Galway in October. Well-beaten in a competitive Grade Three and in the Florida Pearl since then. Reverts back to hurdles today, but on previous form over the smaller obstacles, his chances look slim at best.

Sizing John

Has appeared just twice since winning the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, bolting up in that year’s John Durkan before suffering an injury in the Savills Chase a few weeks later. Makes long-awaited return after 733-days out of action and would be a big player if he can run up to his previous hurdles mark. Huge question marks surround his fitness though.

Stratum

Stayed on gamely to win the Cesarewitch as a 25/1 shot back in October. Well beaten on most recent run at Naas. Has won over hurdles this year and finished a decent second to Dr Mikey before winning that huge flat handicap at Newmarket. Easily the toughest assignment he’s ever faced over obstacles. Could get outclassed.

Verdict

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sizing John run well on the back of his mammoth lay-off. He’s easily the classiest beast in this field. Yet, the doubts surrounding his fitness, and the quality of some of his rivals, leave me looking at BURROWS SAINT (6/1 Unibet).

Although Willie Mullins’ charge saw out the trip well to win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, Burrows Saint didn’t look short of pace when bolting up over this trip at Gowran Park in March. Burrows Saint finished third behind Dortmund Park in the Champion Novice’ Hurdle over course-and-distance in 2018, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see Rachael Blackmore’s mount run well at a tasty price.

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