Timeform Preview: 2019 Punchestown Festival

Willie Mullins
The 2019 Punchestown Festival kicks off on Tuesday afternoon.

Timeform's Simon Rowlands looks at the stats and trends to preview the 2019 Punchestown Festival, which starts on Tuesday.

"...there has been at least one odds-on loser from the Cheltenham winners who took their chance at Punchestown – directly or indirectly – in each of the last five years."

Simon Rowlands on Cheltenham

The position of this week's Punchestown Festival in the racing calendar means that it has become renowned for producing surprising results over the years, with plenty arriving with big reputations but falling short at the meeting - including those who took their chance having won at the Cheltenham Festival around six weeks earlier.

Indeed, there's a 12-strong list of Cheltenham Festival winners who went on to be odds-on losers at Punchestown since the turn of the century, a roll-call which includes the likes of Moscow Flyer, Vautour and Un de Sceaux.

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All three of those mentioned above were defeated in the two-mile Champion Chase, with Moscow Flyer suffering defeat in that race twice, something which perhaps serves as a warning to anyone supporting Min, who is likely to be an odds-on shot for the race himself after his emphatic win in Aintree's Melling Chase earlier this month.

It's a pattern which has become more prevalent in recent years, too, and there has been at least one odds-on loser from the Cheltenham winners who took their chance at Punchestown - directly or indirectly - in each of the last five years.

Of course, one stat doesn't tell the full story, and if we are to get a full idea of how Cheltenham Festival winners fare when taking their chance at Punchestown, we need to consider all such runners, regardless of their price, and how they performed compared to expectations - something which is highlighted in the table below.

cheltenham winners at punchestown.JPG

Interestingly, runners who headed to Punchestown directly from Cheltenham, rather than in-directly (such as via Aintree), performed much better, with a 38% strike-rate compared to a 26% one for the circuitous route.

Generally, though, Cheltenham Festival winners have a strong record at Punchestown, and there has been only one year this century - 2007 - when not a single Cheltenham winner managed to follow up, though only two took their chance.

Considering the odds at which horses are sent off for their respective races improve the figures, too. Having applied a variable stake in order to omit "freak" results , a look at Industry SP (Betfair SP did not exist before 2008) shows just a fractional loss overall, while horses taking the direct route actually showed a small profit (+146.15 on stakes of 3853.85, or 3.8% profit on stakes).

It's worth noting that both Champagne Classic (14/1) in 2017 and The Storyteller (16/1) 12 months ago made a difference to the recent returns, though not unreasonably so.

Entries are available for the first three days of this year's Punchestown Festival at the time of writing, and there are several Cheltenham winners who are due to line up in County Kildare.

Klassical Dream (Herald Champion Novice Hurdle), Defi du Seuil and A Plus Tard (both Dooleys Insurance Group Novice Chase) are possibilities for Tuesday.

Minella Indo (Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle), Al Boum Photo (Coral Punchestown Gold Cup) and Croco Bay (Guinness Handicap Chase) are engaged on Wednesday.

And Croco Bay (2m Handicap Chase), Duc des Genievres and Defi du Seuil (Ryanair Novice Chase) have been entered on Thursday.

It might be a shock to rival past shocks if Klassical Dream or Duc des Genieveres - fast-time winners of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Chase, respectively, at Cheltenham - were to be turned over in their races. But the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo may not even start favourite against the Aintree hero Kemboy in perhaps the showdown of the entire meeting.

That Coral Punchestown Gold Cup is due off at 6:05 on Wednesday, but the whole five days, finishing on Saturday, looks like providing a proper send-off to what has been a memorable jumps season.

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