Timeform preview Saturday's Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle on day five of the Punchestown Festival and recommend a bet...
"Gordon Elliott’s charge was well positioned, though he saw things out so well that a greater test of stamina would surely have been to his advantage..."
Willie Mullins has won the last four renewals of Saturday's Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle and has another likely contender this time round in the shape of Bapaume. He won the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown (by one and three quarter lengths from Landofhopeandglory) in December and was a good five lengths third to Defi du Seuil in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last time. He benefitted from delivering his challenge later than most under Ruby Walsh that day, though, and it remains to be seen whether such tactics will work quite so effectively here.
Mega Fortune was ridden more prominently in the same race, eventually finishing a short head in-front of Bapaume. Gordon Elliott's charge was well positioned, though he saw things out so well that a greater test of stamina would surely have been to his advantage. It seems safe to assume that he will try to stretch his rivals from the front once more - tactics which worked so well for last year's winner of this race, Apple's Jade. The aforementioned Landofhopeandglory was a good fifth in the Triumph and is respected with good ground here in his favour once again, although there is no obvious reason why he should reverse the placings with Mega Fortune and Bapaume.
Willie Mullins is also responsible for Dandy Mag and Meri Devie here. The latter hasn't been seen since finishing fourth to Mega Fortune in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in February (soft ground), but remains less exposed than most in this field and should still have more to offer, especially on this better surface. Dandy Mag is a half-brother to Vroum Vroum Mag and fared best of these when only beaten half a length by Project Bluebook in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse two weeks ago. He had the run of the race that day and will need to improve further to figure here, although that is not out of the question given how lightly-raced this French import has been so far.
Dinaria des Obeaux landed the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse (awarded the race in the stewards room after suffering interference on the run-in) in February and again ran respectably when fourth behind Project Bluebook and Dandy Mag last time. That performance, along with a below-par effort when down the field in the Triumph, appeared to expose her limitations in top company, however, and she is likely to come up short for last year's winning owners. On The Go Again was only sixth of seven in that Fairyhouse contest earlier this month and appears out of this depth now stepping up further in grade.
In summary, this race may come too soon for those who ran at Fairyhouse just 12 days ago and the suggestion is to focus on the principals from the Triumph. MEGA FORTUNE had Bapaume a short-head behind when second at Prestbury Park and is expected to hold too many guns for that rival once more this weekend, with jockey Davy Russell likely to try and dictate a strong gallop from the outset. That will bring his stamina into play and Gordon Elliott's charge will hopefully have enough in reserve to hold off the likely improver on better ground, Meri Devie.
Win back Mega Fortune in the Champion Four-year-Old Hurdle on Saturday