Champions to be crowned on the first day of the Punchestown Festival 2014
Champion trainer Willie Mullins will head to the Festival with yet another strong team. On day one of the meeting it looks certain that the trainer will claim the first of the Championship races with the impressive Neptune winner Faugheen. So highly regarded by connections, Faugheen will drop down in distance to take on his rivals in Champion Novice Hurdle.
In the Champion Chase, won by the imperious Sprinter Sacre twelve months ago, Mullins races Turban and Twinlight. The pair come to the two mile contest looking to regain form but look to be outclassed by Sizing Europe and Hidden Cyclone.
Ballycasey, Mozoltov and Djakadam make up Mullins’ challengers for the Champion Novice Chase where they will be joined by four dangerous opponents. Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough is favoured with the champion McCoy up.
The two bumpers on the card provide two eye-catching entries in the form of Nicky Henderson’s Native Display (6.05) and Dermot Weld’s Forgotten Rules (7.15). Native Display has Patrick Mullins booked which is in itself noteworthy.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Faugheen (Champion Novice Hurdle 4.20)
The unbeaten Neptune winner is so highly regarded by connections that he is a certainty to be crowned Irish Champion. Punters should note that he won by 22 lengths last year at Punchestown Festival beating the very useful Josses Hill.
Crockford’s Whisper – Massinis Trap e/w (4.55)
Interesting fifth in a Limerick handicap at the weekend when piloted by the champion jockey Joseph O’Brien. That preparation makes him certainly worthy of a second look and an each way investment at 20/1. Some creditable performances over hurdles earlier in the season.
Punchestown Festival 2014 Day One Gambles:
Be Postive (3.40), Faugheen (Champion Novice Hurdle 4.20), Massinis Trap e/w (4.55), Hidden Cyclone (Champion Chase 5.30), Native Display (6.05), Carlingford Lough e/w (Champion Novice Chase 6.40) and Forgotten Rules (7.15)
(Featured Photograph – Faugheen at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)