Punchestown Festival 2022: Day 2 Spot Plays

April 27th, 2022

The Punchestown Festival heads into its second day April 27, with a card featuring three Grade 1 events, a Grade 3, and some competitive handicaps.

The highlight of the day is undoubtedly the Punchestown Gold Cup (G1), featuring some of the best staying steeplechasers in Britain and Ireland. But there are plenty of other exciting races with nice betting opportunities.

Here are some spot plays for Day 2 at Punchestown.

Race 4: Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle (G1), 3 miles, novice hurdlers

Five of the 11 entries are backing up from the Albert Bartlett Spa Novices’ Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham, and it’s hard to go past the first two: #11 The Nice Guy, the comfortable winner, and stablemate  #8 Minella Cocooner, who would have been closer but for some bad jumping mistakes. If he jumps cleanly, Minella Cocooner could well turn the tables, though it’s interesting to note that Paul Townend has jumped off Minella Cocooner to ride The Nice Guy. Of those that didn’t run in the Bartlett, #9 Minella Crooner, #6 Journey With Me, and #5 Hollow Games look the best.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #9 Minella Cocooner
  • $1 trifecta: 8, 11 with 8, 9, 11 with 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11

Race 5: Punchestown Gold Cup (G1), 3 miles, open steeplechasers

The blue riband event has drawn a great nine-horse field, with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard the only really notable absentee. The big question is how the outstanding 2 1/2-mile chaser #2 Allaho will cope with three miles. The dual Ryanair Chase winner has been beaten at his only attempts at the distance over big fences, but he hasn’t attempted it since December 2020 and he’s probably improved since then. However, his odds of potentially around 2-1 are a bit short for me. I’m going to back English raider #3 Clan Des Obeaux to repeat last year’s victory here; he loves three miles and his victory at Aintree April 7 shows he’s in the right form.

  • $10 win/$20 place: #3 Clan Des Obeaux
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 3 with 2, 3, 8 with all

Race 6: Champion INH Flat Race (G1), 2 1/16 miles, bumpers

There are a lot of strong favorites at this carnival, but none look as strong as Cheltenham Champion Bumper (G1) winner #3 Facile Vega. His name proved apt at Cheltenham as his victory was facile, and at level weights it’s hard to see him beaten. The only possible variable is if track conditions are very different, and that doesn’t look the case. Cheltenham runner-up #1 American Mike looks likely to fill the same position again.

  • $30 win: #3 Facile Vega
  • $2 trifecta: 3 with 1 with all

Race 7: OMC Claims Handicap Chase, 2 5/8 miles, open steeplechasers

An interesting field of 13 runs here. Five appeared in the Topham Chase (G3) over the Grand National fences at Aintree April 8; of these, only #2 Annamix made any impression, finishing third to course specialist Mac Tottie. He should be a good chance, but this is a different type of race and others appeal more. #3 Ciel De Neige, #10 Egality Mans and #12 Fancy Foundations all have decent form, while #1 Royal Rendezvous’ effort in the Topham is best forgotten; his form prior to that was first-rate. In an open race, I’m going to give Fancy Foundations a go.

  • $10 win/$10 place: #12 Fancy Foundations