Timeform Irish SmartPlays: Tofino can keep rivals at Bay in opener

Punchestown is due to get under way at 16:50 today

Although the chases again fell to the weather, the rest of Punchestown's Day Three card survived a morning inspection and will provide some high-class action this evening.....

"He's improved with every run this season and ran a stormer to chase home Get Me Out of Here in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last time"

Yesterday it seemed an advantage to race prominently given the conditions, while a pre-requisite of any selection today is a proven ability to handle heavy ground, so Tofino Bay (16:50) looks a worthy favourite in the opener. He's improved with every run this season and ran a stormer to chase home Get Me Out of Here in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last time, making most. That effort is a standout in today's line up, and though the likes of The Tracey Shuffle and At Fishers Cross are open to improvement, they'll struggle to progress past thre selection.

Quevega is a mare of rare quality, as she's shown with four successive Cheltenham Festival wins, as well as two World Series Hurdles at today's track. She obviously merits the utmost respect as she bids for the hat-trick but three miles has always looked her upper limit and today's ground will certainly place an emphasis on stamina, so wading in at a short price comes with risks attached. A safer play could be Voler La Vedette (18:05) place only as she has returned an improved performer this time around, her second in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham underlining as much, and has a good record in bad conditions.

The three-mile handicap hurdle due off at 18:40 looks sure to be a real slog, which may not play to the strengths of the likes of Catleen and Slew Charm, the former with form at the trip but also possessing the speed to be effective at two miles. One who seems likely to relish conditions is Novarov, who has come on in leaps and bounds since going handicapping this term, winning at Navan and Cork and finding only a totally unexposed rival too good at Fairyhouse last time. He will be suited by the return to three miles and, with blinkers replacing the cheekpieces to sharpen him up, may be able to race closer to the pace than usual.

Timeform SmartPlays

Win back Tofino Bay in the 16:50
Place back Voler La Vedette in the 18:05
Win back Novarov in the 18:40

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