Punchestown Festival Betting

Punchestown Day 4 Tips: Take Tea to chase home Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle will take all the beating at Punchestown

"That was a performance that bore all the hallmarks of a horse who was on the fast-track to Grade 1 company and I'm fully expecting him to take the next step up the ladder here."

Mark Milligan is back with a look at day 4 of the Punchestown Festival, where he has a couple of selections, including one in the big race of the day...

The Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at 17:25 is the highlight of the fourth day of the Punchestown Festival and realistically it should prove nothing more than a lap of honour for superstar mare Honeysuckle.

There's not really a great deal more that can written about Henry De Bromhead's 8-y-o, who took a second successive Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and is aiming for a repeat here having taken care of Sharjah in this race last year.

With only six runners lining up, credible challengers are thin on the ground and it really is impossible to oppose Honeysuckle in the win market.

That's not to say we can't find a bet in other markets, though, and I'm particularly interested in the 'without' market here because I believe Teahupoo is an awful lot better than he showed when tailed off behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle last time.

The winner of his first three starts over hurdles, including an impressive 11-length defeat of Darasso at Gowran in February, Gordon Elliott's charge was given the green light to race in the big one on the first day at Cheltenham despite a relative lack of experience.

For whatever reason, he just didn't fire there but I prefer to focus on his upwardly-mobile profile before then, and I'm expecting a much better showing this time around.

It's a stretch to see him fully testing Honeysuckle if she's anywhere near her best, but the rest of the field are hardly world beaters, and Teahupoo has as good a chance as any of filling the runner-up spot, particularly with Gordon Elliott having his string in decent form.

State Man to take next step up the ladder

The Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle at 18:00 has the makings of a cracker, with the likes of Flame Bearer, Kilcruit and Three Stripe Life all in the line-up.

However, they're all going to have to go some to contain Willie Mullins' State Man, who looked something out of the ordinary when making a mockery of a mark of 141 in the County Hurdle last time, where he ran out a comfortable winner from First Street.

Kept wide and out of trouble by Paul Townend, State Man impressed by the way he travelled up from two out and soon had things in safe keeping once jumping the last.

That was a performance that bore all the hallmarks of a horse who was on the fast-track to Grade 1 company and I'm fully expecting him to take the next step up the ladder here.

Not that this will be any cakewalk, however, as his three main rivals all possess solid novice hurdle form, in particular Flame Bearer, who overcame plenty of trouble in running before getting the better of Ha D'or by a neck at Fairyhouse last time.

State Man's stable companion Kilcruit would be no big surprise were he to win, though he's definitely promised more than he's delivered in his career so far, while Gordon Elliott's Three Stripe Life was an easy winner at Aintree last time but this will be a third relatively quick run in succession.

He's not a massive price, but I'm fully expecting State Man to get the job done on his first foray into Grade 1 company, and he rates a confident selection.

Birchdale the each-way value

My other bet on the card comes in the novice handicap chase at 16:15, where we can take advantage of the 5 places offered on the Sportsbook.

This is a tricky puzzle to unpick, but Birchdale will come into the contest fresher than most having been given a break since winning a competitive handicap at Leopardstown in early February.

Enda Bolger's charge did that with a bit in hand there after previously running well when sixth in the Paddy Power Chase at the same course over the Christmas period.

While not having the sort of sexy, unexposed profile associated with favourite Fighter Allen, what Birchdale doesn't lack for is experience, and that could prove a vital commodity in a race where fifteen novices are likely to get in each other's way to a certain extent.

The aforementioned Fighter Allen is obviously a worthy favourite, having come home 6 lengths to the good of Popong at Tramore last time, and it's worth noting that his trainer Willie Mullins has a stellar record in this race.

The only knock on this one really is the price.

Willie Mullins, as so often in these Punchestown races, goes into the contest mob-handed, as he fields four others in an attempt to maintain his monopoly on the prize.

Of that quartet, it could well be Birchdale's owner-mate Blue Sari that proves the pick - he has some strong from to his name behind some of this season's top novices, though it won't be easy shouldering top weight in such a competitive race.

I'm happy to stick with the street fighter Birchdale, who should give us a good run for our money and ought to at least make the places, though hopefully will do a lot better.

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