Day three of Punchestown and just a couple of days left in the jumps season before we give the flat our full attention.
Feature race of the day is the stayers hurdle where the first three home in Cheltenham’s equivalent renew rivalries after skipping Aintree.
Nichols Canyon is rightly favourite and I’m in no hurry to take him on at a pretty backable price of 5/2.
He’s won masses of Grade 1 hurdles yet never seems to be truly considered a top notcher given he’s never really made a mark in Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle.
Not only that, his form was in and out earlier in the season and you’d not be certain the real talent will turn up.
I’d certainly rather back him than Unowhatimeanharry, whose considerable bubble was burst at Cheltenham when his old foe Lil Rockerfeller even reversed the form.
I reckon he wants slower ground than he got at Cheltenham or gets here, so he’s not too easy to rule out now his improvement seems to have plateaued at just shy of top-notch.
Lil Rockerfeller himself is tough to win with but is remarkably consistent, yet despite him being highly likely to be there or thereabouts at the finish, it’s hard to see one not being too good for him.
Sutton Place is interesting for Gordon Elliott – as one of the most unexposed in the field, he could be up to this and a defeat of Festival winner Supasundae last time out does read well.
If connections were to be believed, he skipped a recent engagement before of quick ground yet won’t see things much slower in this, so I’d have to be worried.
I’m going to have a go with FOOTPAD for Willie Mullins, who steps up in trip markedly from the two-mile Grade 1 assignments he’s been tackling almost all of his short career.
Just aged five, he’s already a multiple Grade 1 winner and ran a big race in the Champion Hurdle to finish a one-paced fourth – and five-year-olds have an awful record in that race – while he’s looked like he needed a step up in trip after his last two runs.
His stamina nearly got him to Petit Mouchoir in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January and he’s proven on this decent surface, whilst he’s only really had four runs this season if we ignore a few summer raids to France.
We shouldn’t ignore those as one of them was a Grade 1 win at Auteuil, but my point is he hasn’t had the toughest of seasons.
He’s unproven but unexposed at the trip, yet he’s got proper Grade 1 form and recent evidence suggests he could stay.
That’s enough for me to want him on-side each-way at 16/1 with a few firms going 1/4 the odds for three places.
0.75pt each-way Footpad @16/1, 17:30 Punchestown, Thursday