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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Punchestown Festival Predictions and Betting Tips, Day 1 & 2

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Punchestown Festival Course Guide

Irish horse racing fans are in for a treat this week as it’s time for the Punchestown Festival. The Punchestown Racecourse in County Kildare is the home of Irish Jumps Racing. The right-handed racecourse offers the horses and jockeys plenty of challenges thanks to the undulating track. Willie Mullins has dominated many of the events at Punchestown over the years. Will his fantastic start to 2024 continue?

While the Punchestown Racecourse holds several events throughout the year, the Punchestown Festival is the most eagerly awaited. The five-day event sees some of the best racehorses in Europe compete around a challenging banked track. The festivities begin at 2:30 pm this Tuesday, April 30th and continue until Saturday. The last race is at 6:30 pm on May 4th. With eight races a day for most of next week, there are 40 thrilling events to enjoy.

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Having won the Aintree Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup, all eyes will be on dynamic duo Paul Townend and Willie Mullins. Jockey Townend rode I Am Maximus home in a thrilling Grand National, even with the condensed field. Mullins and Galopin Des Champs made headlines with consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup victories. However, Punchestown offers a fresh challenge for the entire field.

Punchestown Festival Day 1

Day one of the Punchestown Festival begins this Tuesday, April 30th. The first race of the festival is the 14:30 Kildare Cross Country Steeplechase with 16 runners. There are six additional races before the last event of the day, the 18:35 Haier Flat Race. There are several events throughout the week with humongous prize pots. The biggest race on day one is the Champion Steeplechase. The grade one event has a prize pot of €300,000 and 12 entries this year.

While most punters will pay close attention to the 17:25 steeplechase, there are seven other races to enjoy on Tuesday. To help you make a winning wager, our racing experts have created a horse racing prediction for each race, plus some betting tips. Our horse racing predictions have been correct this year, accurately forecasting the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National 2024.

14:30 Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Steeplechase Predictions and Betting Tips

Prediction: Casey West

The first race of the Punchestown Festival takes place just after the morning showers. The latest going report from the racecourse is yielding with yielding to soft in places. With the track on the firmer side, it’s unlikely to soften too much between now and race day. Looking at the field, one horse stands taller than the rest, Casey West.

Casey Wests’ last race was in January 2024 at Clonmel in Southern Ireland. The horse trained by P J Rothwell came first in a field of 13 on a right-handed, undulating track. The going won’t be the same, but a winning horse on an undulating track in Ireland feels like a good start for the first race of the festival. For betting each way, we like the look of Knockiel Synge and Commander of Ten. If you want to bet on horses with an outside chance, try De Nordener and Fountain House after they picked up wins in March.

15:05 Blood-Stock Full Circle Series Final Handicap Hurdle

Prediction: Morricone

With 23 runners in the second race of the Punchestown Festival, punters are in for a thrilling start to this year’s festivities. From the lineup, Morricone stood out for several reasons, including the four most recent performances. Since November 2023, Morricone has raced exclusively at Punchestown Racecourse. The horse has improved around the banked, undulating track, picking up two wins in 2024 and a second place in December 2023. We predict Morricone will make it three wins in a row in the second race of the Punchestown Festival.

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It won’t be easy for the horse trained by Ray Hackett, as there is plenty of stiff competition in this field. Mousey Bown has two wins in March at Fairyhouse and Down Royal. Plus, American Money has two wins this year at Naas and Billy Lee Swagger has three top-two finishes in a row. Any of these runners have a good chance of returning a winning horse racing bet, but there are also several to consider for betting each way. Paddy’s Milestone has three fourth-placed finishes since January 2nd, In d’Or has finished inside the top five in the last six races. The Lovely Man has a chance following two second-place finishes in Gowarn Park and Fairyhouse but pulled up in November at Naas.

15:40 KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Prediction: Mystical Power

The third race on day one of the Punchestown Festival looks like a three-horse race. Mystical Power, Slade Steel, and Firefox have the best chance to win in this nine-horse race. No surprise we have gone for the Willie Mullins-trained horse, Mystical Power, following the win at Aintree. Jockey Mark Walsh bested Firefox by half a length on that day, and we see history repeating itself this Tuesday.

However, Rachael Blackmore on Slade Steel is one to consider. Trainer Henry De Bromhead saw Slade Steel win at Cheltenham, beating Mystical Power by a length and a half. The horse has not raced since March, but it was the most recent runner to beat Mystical Power. Mullins’ horse has four wins in its last five races. Will Walsh make it five wins in six? For betting each way, we like Firefox, Asian Master, and Ile Atlantique. Ile Atlantique could be an astute pick as it’s a Willie Mullins-trained horse with six top-five finishes in a row.

16:15 Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

Prediction: Daddy Long Legs

The 4:15 race has 25 runners and several horses in with a shout. However, in that field lies Daddy Long Legs, a horse trained by Willie Mullins and jockeyed by Paul Townend. The legendary duo won the Grand National and most of the spoils at Aintree. Betting against the dream team to do it again feels foolish, especially since Daddy Long Legs is the odds-on favourite at 4/1.

Another Mullins horse to monitor in this race is Rath Gaul Boy. Had the horse not pulled up in Leopardstown in March, we would expect it to be much closer, having won its next two races. Toto Too is worth betting each way, winning three of its last five races, including a top-five finish in each event. Lord Erskine is worth an each-way punt, having ridden well in recent months. With two recent sixth-place finishes, it would be a risky bet on a horse with odds of 40/1.

16:50 Goffs Defender Bumper

Prediction: Sermandzarak

The Goffs Defender Bumper comes before the big race on the first day of the Punchestown Festival. The rules for this race mean we are betting on an inexperienced field of 25 runners. Anyone could win this race, but Sermandzarak caught our eye as he won at Punchestown in February. Technically, Sermandzarak finished second in the race to Colcannon but placed first following jockey Finn Tegetmeier weighing in light.

With a field of 23 four-year-old runners, anything can happen in the two-mile race. Betting each way could be profitable, as there is little to go on for each runner. There are three horses in the field trained by Willie Mullins. The right move could be to bet each way on Heffay, Jonzac, or King Rasko Grey. If you were to take a punt on an unknown horse to win, we would go for Sermandzarak or King Rasko Grey.

17:25 William Hill Champion Steeplechase (Grade 1)

Prediction: Dinoblue

The first big race of the Punchestown Festival will be exciting, but there is one horse with a great shot at taking the first big win this week, Dinoblue. At 2/1, you can’t go wrong backing Willie Mullins, especially for a horse with six top-two finishes in a row. Jockey Mark Walsh came second at Cheltenham and Leopardstown this year. However, the trainer and jockey pair will look to get back to winning ways this Tuesday.

There are plenty of fantastic runners in this year’s Punchestown Champion Chase. Captain Guinness took the win ahead of Gentleman De Mee at the Cheltenham Queen Mother Chase. A top-five finish looks likely with talented jockey Rachael Blackmore in the saddle. Banbridge has avoided the spotlight this week following a disappointing show at Cheltenham in March. Jockey J. J. Slevin will look to make things right with a strong run this Tuesday. One other horse to consider for betting each way is Gentleman De Mee. Dynamic duo Townend and Mullins could pull off another miracle on the first day of the Punchestown Festival.

18:00 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1)

Prediction: Spillane’s Tower

While all eyes will be on the 5:25 race, the seventh race of the first day is looking just as exciting. Monty’s Star is the odds-on favourite at our online sports betting site, but we like the look of Spillane’s Tower. Jockey Mark Walsh has ridden Spillane’s Tower three times this year, including two victories and one 2nd place. Monty’s Star has one race this year, second place at Cheltenham by nearly four lengths.

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The bookies like Monty’s Star following Rachael Blackmore’s win at Punchestown in December. However, there is not much between Monty’s Star at 9/4 and Spillane’s Tower at 5/2. Embassy Gardens is our first pick for betting each way. In the last six months, Sandor Clegane and Three Card Brag enjoyed second-place finishes at Punchestown. With only eight runners, this race will be tight. The top three at the bookmaker all have a chance, but our money is on Spillane’s Tower.

18:35 Haier Flat Race

Prediction: Colcannon

The last race of day one is another with an inexperienced field. Colcannon is our pick, technically winning at Punchestown as recently as February. Jockey Finn Tegetmeier weighed in light at the end of the race, having come first by a considerable margin. Derek O’Connor will take the reins on Tuesday, and we feel good about Colcannon getting the victory it deserves.

With 18 horses in the field, each way betting comes into play. The field has little to no race experience on a stage like this, so we expect the cool heads to prevail. Unknown Entity is one of Willie Mullins’ horses worth a punt. Sixandahalf came second in Naas this March and has a good chance of being in the top three at the final straight. Plus, Putapoundinthejar has a glorious name and a second-place finish in Limerick. The right-handed undulating racecourse this week might suit this runner.

Two horses racing to the finish at the Punchestown Festival

Punchestown Festival Day 2

The second day of the Punchestown Festival will be another cracker. With eight additional races to enjoy, there are several runners to keep an eye out for. Below, we have the time of each race, plus our horse racing prediction of who will cross the line first. We also have a few outsiders for anyone looking to bet each way.

14:30 Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle

Prediction: Harsh

The first race on Wednesday at the Punchestown Festival will be tight. Little separates the field, opening the possibility for an outsider. Based on recent performances, we are backing Harsh. Harsh competed at Punchestown and came third in November. Recently, Harsh won at Cork and came fourth at Cheltenham. This form should continue in Kildare, and we expect Harsh to cross the line first by half a length.

Looking at the rest of the field, several runners have a reputation for finishing well. The Other Mozzie has finished in the top five in the last six races. Joyau De Thaix also finished strongly over the past few months, including a win at Limerick and a fourth-place finish at Punchestown in January. Luminous Light looked strong until pulling up in February. It would be a substantial risk to bet on this runner.

Party Playboy could be a profitable option if we were betting each way on this race. Our online betting site will fancy Harsh for this race. However, if you were going for a race winner, Park of Kings could win at Punchestown again.

15:05 Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final

Prediction: Blizzard of Oz

Making horse racing predictions for this year’s Punchestown Festival is difficult. For this event, we backing another Mullins and Townend combination. Given the performances at Cheltenham and Aintree, we feel this year will belong to Mullins. The second race on Wednesday looks tight, but we expect the Blizzard of Oz to cross the line by at least two lengths.

Betting each way in this race will also be troublesome. The field is littered with fantastic horses. Theflyingbee has a recent victory at Bellewstown and four other finishes in the first five places. Mi Lucky Cailin is also trending upwards with three second-place finishes at Naas and Fairyhouse. Answer to Kayf came fourth at Cheltenham, and the horse could have fantastic odds for each way betting this week.

15:40 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle

Prediction: Mistergif

The 3:40 race on Wednesday, May 1st has another Willie Mullins horse, ridden by Paul Townend. With odds of 11/8, there is little profit to be made backing the favourite. Cleatus Poolaw is the next most likely to win, with odds of 11/2, still a long way off even for a punt. However, the field is littered with worthy challengers like No Flies on Him with a second place at Punchestown in February. Plus, Antrim Coast won at Punchestown in October.

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This could be one the most exciting races of the week, even though there is a clear favourite at the front. Plenty of horses in the field are coming to Punchestown after a win. If, for whatever reason, Mistergif is not in with a shout, there are plenty of worthy runners in this pack. Betting each way in this race is much harder than predicting a winner. We like the look of Don Chalant, Gorgeous Tom, and Lady Bluebird to finish strong having all won races in the last month or so.

16:15 Channor Real Estate Group Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Prediction: Dancing City

So far, we have not changed our minds about backing Willie Mullins. However, the 4:15 race on Wednesday has an incredible top three. Dancing City won at Aintree, plus Stellar Story and Better Days Ahead won at Cheltenham this year. We predict Dancing City will win again, having raced as recently as mid-April. However, Stellar Story and Better Days Ahead have better results on an undulating track.

With only eight runners in this race, betting each way feels like child’s play. Instead, let’s look a little more into the top three. Dancing City has three wins since December, all on left-handed tracks. Stellar Story won at Cheltenham in heavy going, once again in left-handed tracks predominately. Better Days Ahead is the only runner in the top three with a win on a right-handed track. Winning at Fairyhouse in November marked an incredible return following a fall earlier that month. A safe bet in this race is Dancing City, but if you want to gamble, trying an outright wager on Better Days Ahead could be worthwhile.

16:50 Race & Stay at Punchestown Champion I.N.H Flat Race (Grade 1)

Prediction: Jasmin De Vaux

The 13th race of the festival might be unlucky for some, but we have a good feeling. There are 12 runners in the field, including multiple horses with two race wins. We are backing the one runner with three wins, Jasmin De Vaux. Having won at Loughanmore in April 2023, the Willie Mullins’ trained horse won at Naas and Cheltenham this year. Jasmin De Vaux’s closest rival is Romeo Coolio, who lost out at Cheltenham to Mullins by a length and a quarter. Romeo Coolio will want revenge, but can trainer Gordon Elliot deliver?

Looking at the field, three runners caught our eye. William Munny, Harbour Highway, and Shuttle Diplomacy have two wins each. The odds for these horses range from 9/2 to 14/1, making them more than viable options for betting each way. If you are betting on a horse race, each way wagers become even more difficult when there is a strong front three. We predict Jasmin De Vaux will win, and Shuttle Diplomacy will get into the top five thanks to a first-place finish at Limerick in March. Shuttle Diplomacy will benefit from the experience in Limerick, as it was a right-handed undulating track.

17:25 Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1)

Prediction: Galopin Des Champs

It’s no surprise that we are backing this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to take the Punchestown Gold Cup title as well. Galopin Des Champs won by three and a half lengths at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. With three wins in three races, it’s no wonder the bookies are offering 8/11 for this clear favourite. The only question left to answer is who will come second?

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend have all but confirmed first place at the Punchestown Gold Cup in 2024. However, that is partly because the rival jockeys were unseated recently. Fastorslow lost to Galopin Des Champs at Cheltenham after unseating. Corach Rambler unseated his jockey at the first fence in the 2024 Grand National. Momentum will be with Mullins and Townend, but anything could happen in this huge race. Betting each way on a horse like Conflated could be worthwhile, but we expect the top three all to finish.

18:00 HSS Hire Handicap Steeplechase (Grade 3)

Prediction: James Du Berlais

We predict that Paul Townend and Willie Mullins will have even more reasons to celebrate after the 6 pm race on Wednesday. James Du Berlais is the clear favourite at the sports betting site, with odds of 3/1. However, the horse is winless in the past six races, having come second in Aintree and seventh at Cheltenham this year. A jockey change saw the horse vastly improve under the expert tutelage of Paul Townend. This race will be a genuine test of his prowess in the saddle.

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James Du Barlais’ closest rival is The Goffer, who ran in the 2024 Grand National. At 50/1, there was no expectation for The Goffer, who rode well into 13th place. The top five is as high as this horse can go. The next three horses, with the best odds to win, all had poor runs on their last time out. Idas Boy fell in December, Bill Baxter unseated the jockey at Aintree, and Jetoile pulled up in Newbury. For wagering each way, we prefer Lets Go Champ and Union Park. Both horses would have great returns for a top-five finish.

18:35 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race (Grade 3)

Prediction: Familiar Dreams

In this year’s INH Flat Race, we have jumped off the Willie Mullins bandwagon. We predict Familiar Dreams will continue a winning start to 2024, making it four wins in a row. This would be a magnificent win for Anthony McCann, as the horse is the third most likely to win at the bookies. Our online betting site will favour the Mullins-trained runners. Aurora Vega and Fleur Au Fusil have two wins on their record.

To round up the top five, we see Magic McColgan and Air of Entitlement putting up a great fight. However, it will be a battle between Mullins and McCann for the top spot. Familiar Dreams has raced in six events since May last year, registering five finishes in the top two places. Fleur Au Fusil has two wins but came seventh in the most recent trip to Cheltenham at the Champion Bumper. Aurora Vega won three races in 2023 but came fourth in the most recent event in Leopardstown. Both Mullins horses have shown real pedigree, but we are backing the outsider, Familiar Dreams, to take home a surprise win.

Punchestown Festival Going

The latest ground report from the Punchestown Racecourse is yielding with yielding to soft in places. The going will change between now and the first races, especially if the rain continues to fall. However, the weather report looks like Tuesday and Wednesday will be clear. That means a dry first two days of the Punchestown Festival.

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