Punchestown day one tips: Sharjah and Al Boum Photo

Punchestown hosts its annual bonanza this week with almost all of Ireland’s finest jumpers out in action.

This year, like last, sees Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott battle it out for the training championship and it’s safe to assume the two will dominate the many Grade 1s throughout the week.

I rate SHARJAH a fairly obvious value bet at 14/1 for the Grade 1 novices’ hurdle at 16:20 as he’s been stuck in the mud of late and has shown his best form on better ground.

He looked all set to land a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas but came down at the last when still on the bridle, and, though that’s not the best of form in the race, it’s clear he’s got more talent than he’s shown since.

Favourite Getabird was a flop at Cheltenham and doesn’t get the soft ground he’s shown his best form on – which might not be a negative at all – so on balance there are plenty of reasons to take him on at even money despite his obvious claims.

1pt win Sharjah @14/1, 16:20 Punchestown, Tuesday

I fancy DOUVAN to be too good in the Champion Chase at 17:30 after his good run at Cheltenham.

He looked to be going best of all when falling four out to leave many thinking what might have been, and it would be brilliant for jumps racing to see him confirm his return to form.

I’m tempted to say 6/5 is a very good price for a horse that was long, long odds-on for the Champion Chase last season, but I’ll sit this one out and watch.

The 18:40 is a cracker too as all sorts of form-lines cross in the three-mile Grade 1 novices’ chase, featuring Thyestes winner Monbeg Notorious, National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden, Grade 1 winners Monalee, Finian’s Oscar, Shattered Love and AL BOUM PHOTO, with the latter the one to be on at 5/1.

Many ran at Cheltenham Festival and many have run since at either Aintree or Fairyhouse, and it’s hard to fancy anything that’s had such a tough season with three spring festival runs in such quick succession.

Monalee is a very worthy favourite yet simply looks too short to be a bet despite having been saved for this since Cheltenham – particularly as he flopped at this meeting last season over hurdles – and JLT winner Shattered Love has been beaten fair and square by our selection since Cheltenham.

Al Boum Photo looks a three miler and does his best work late on, though his jumping is an obvious vice and he’s fallen twice already this season.

Those falls may have inadvertently kept him fresh for this so I’m not too concerned by the quick turnaround – and it’s very difficult to say whether he would have gotten closer to Monalee when he crashed out of the RSA Chase in March.

Make no mistake, Monalee has beaten him three times to zero in their careers, but I’m not totally sold his best trip is three miles and at 5/1 I fancy the selection to go very close.

1pt win Al Boum Photo @5/1, 18:40 Punchestown, Tuesday

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