Timeform Irish SmartPlays: Arvika worth the wait

Willie Mullins: trainer of Arvika Ligeonnaire

Timeform's Irish team recommend three bets for this evening's Punchestown card.

Arvika Ligeonniere should open his chasing account at the first time of asking, even after being off the track for the last two years

Arvika Ligeonniere arrived from France in late 2009 with a tall reputation and quickly established himself as one of Ireland's leading novice hurdlers that winter, with victories at Fairyhouse and here at the festival meeting. Sandwiched between those wins was a fine fourth in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham, with future Grade 1 chasers Quel Esprit and Bostons Angel behind, and with the Willie Mullins yard continuing to produce winners, Arvika Ligeonniere should open his chasing account at the first time of asking, even after being off the track for the last two years, bred and built to thrive over the larger obstacles.

The focus turns to amateur riders for the final three races on the card and the KFM Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup has one of the quirkier conditions of entry for a race, open to horses who are 'the bona fide and unconditional property of farmers farming land in the Kildare Hunt District'. This will be Mr Goodenough's third try in this race and, after being brought down in 2010 and runner up to The Baler (who reopposes here) last year, he can finally capture the prize for his breeder/owner/trainer, on the back of victories in February and March. The former of those wins was his third success at this course and, though all have been over further, this seems certain to become a true stamina test that should play to the 8-y-o's strengths.

On The Fringe has yet to add to his win column after three attempts in 2012, yet still has a good chance to reclaim the Racing Post Champion Hunters Chase crown he gained two years ago. His effort in narrowly failing to give 12lb to Oscar Delta at Fairyhouse over Easter was a career best and he still held every chance last week when hitting the deck over the X-country course here, when a strongly fancied favourite. Today's race looks less competitive than that one, so compensation awaits.


Timeform Smartplays
All at Punchestown
Back Arvika Ligeonniere in the 18:10
Back Mr Goodenough in the 19:15
Back On The Fringe in the 19:50
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