Timeform Irish Smartplays: Menorah may struggle to jump to it at Punchestown

Menorah: Yet to fully convince with his jumping

It may only be a five-race card at Punchestown on Friday, but with there is no shortage of quality with three Grade 1s planned, and Timeform's Irish team bring you two backs and a lay for the penultimate day of the Festival.

All things considered, laying Menorah at around 3.211/5 in the win market should result in profit

The Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase is the only race to take place over fences at Punchestown this afternoon and it presents an ideal opportunity to oppose the current favourite Menorah (16:55) whose jumping is still a big cause for concern despite having won a Grade 1 at Aintree earlier this month. That race didn't take as much winning as seemed likely with Al Ferof failing to give his running, and Menorah was left to beat Cristal Bonus by seven lengths, even though he had made a couple of significant mistakes after halfway. Today's race looks set to prove to be much more of a test, not least because of the gruelling conditions, and both First Lieutenant and Lucky William promise to be better suited by this afternoon's contest turning into something of a slog. All things considered, laying Menorah at around 3.211/5 in the win market should result in profit.

Felix Yonger (18:05) is a worthy favourite in the Grade 1 Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle having finished a very good second to Simonsig in the Baring Bingham Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, but Dedigout is the one that has been underrated by the layers and looks a strong each-way bet at around the 7.06/1 mark. Tony Martin's runner may well have finished behind Lyreen Legend when only third at Navan on his penultimate start, but that effort isn't a true reflection of his worth, and he wasted no time getting back on the up when defying top-weight in a handicap at Fairyhouse last time, beating Novarov by two lengths. A big, strong galloping sort, the conditions aren't expected to pose Dedigout any problems and he remains capable of better still.

The following novice hurdle is a well-contested affair, but Oscara Dara (18:40) shaped well behind stablemate Darlan at Aintree last time and is worth a chance to resume his progression given that he looked as if he would have benefited from a greater test of stamina that day. Oscara Dara had shown above-average ability in two bumpers for Alan Fleming last season, and created a very good impression when winning a novice at Sandown on his first start for Nicky Henderson, beating Crystal Swing by 20 lengths. Barry Geraghty takes the ride for the first time and he looks overpriced at 3.39/4.

Timeform SmartPlays

Lay Menorah at 3.39/4 in the 16:55
Back Dedigout win and place in the 18:05
Back Oscara Dara in the 18:40


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