A frustrating day for Alan Dudman yesterday, with a 1.33 in-running runner-up at Ayr. With the Punchestown Festival starting on Tuesday, our man has two bets for the top-class card...
"He is a no-nonsense galloper who jumps and stays well. There's nothing flashy about him, but he's had a damn good season as he develops into a high-class chaser."
With 21 runners set for this handicap hurdle, there are all manner of potentially well-treated horses in the line-up. I am siding with Gordon Elliott's Automated though, and his price of around 7/1 makes him a win only bet.
This five-year-old travels so well and possesses plenty of pace - that he surely has to be a player here. He was beaten fair and square by Ivan Grozny at Aintree last time into second, but he was going just as strongly as the winner before the straight, and notably better than anything else in the field. The soft conditions might just have blunted his finishing effort - but he was matched in-play at 1.39.
Running from a mark of 128 on Tuesday - he moves like he is ahead of that figure, and this lightly-raced ex-Flat horse looks the type for one of these big field handicaps. He should improve for the switch to a sounder surface (which could help his jumping), and he looks prime material for a back-to-lay trade.
He seemed to enjoy the hustle and bustle at Aintree - and the same again should suit here. He can go close with the excellent Jack Kennedy on, claiming 3lb.
Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins collected just the 16 Punchestown Festival winners last year, and considering I've had a blank week so far - how I'd love to have just a quarter of that tally!
The Grade 1 Novice Chase sees the quick return of Grand National hero Rule The World, and on official ratings, he is just 2lb clear of my selection - Outlander.
I'm a fan of this rather unheralded performer, and yet another Gigginstown horse. I feel the step up to 3m1f for the first time over fences (raced over 3m hurdling) on better ground will really suit.
He is a no-nonsense galloper who jumps and stays well. There's nothing flashy about him, but he's had a damn good season as he develops into a high-class chaser.
He was unlucky when tipping up at the Cheltenham Festival in the JLT, but he came back just 10 days later to run well in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse. However, his best run was in February - when he landed a top level race at Leopardstown over 2m6f. He jumped fine that day in beating Monksland, and that performance highlighted how he'll stay this trip no problems. He also hits a flat spot, so might trade a little higher in-play.
Tuesday's Recommended Bets
Alan Dudman's profit and loss
Weekly P/L: -5.0
2015 P/L: +20.14