Punchestown Festival 2022: Day 5 Spot Plays

April 29th, 2022

The Punchestown Festival winds up with two further Grade 1 races, the Mares Champion Hurdle and the Ballymore Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle. The biggest challenge for most stables is how to stop the Willie Mullins juggernaut — he’s already won seven Grade 1 races at the Festival and has a strong chance of winning at least one more on the final day.

The final day at Punchestown includes a Rest of the World Bet Back offer for all races in which betting is available; players who opt in can get up to $10 of their win bet returned to them if their selection finishes second. Note that the large field sizes mean no betting is available on races 6 and 8.

Here are some spot plays for Day 5 at Punchestown.

Race 2: Colm Quinn BMW Handicap Chase, 3 7/8 miles, steeplechasers

Fifteen horses run in this staying test, including a few backing up from the English and Irish Grand Nationals and the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase. Arguably the best form belongs to #6 Plan Of Attack, who finished third to Delta Work and Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. #5 Champagne Platinum could be right in it if he’s recovered from his close eighth-place finish in the Irish National, while the improving novice chaser #10 Regina Dracones also warrants serious respect. And given the meet he’s having, it would be dangerous to overlook Willie Mullins’ Grand National faller #1 Agusta Gold.

  • $10 win/$20 place: #6 Plan Of Attack
  • $2 box exacta: 1, 5, 6, 10

Race 3: Coolmore Mares Champion Hurdle (G1), 2 3/8 miles, mares, hurdlers

The 2020 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner #3 Epatante has returned to her best form this season, winning three of her four races. Her astute English trainer Nicky Henderson has wisely decided to avoid the only horse to beat her this season, the unbeaten champion Honeysuckle, and chosen the Mares Champion Hurdle as her target here. Given that she proved she can handle 2 1/2 miles when winning the Aintree Hurdle (G1) April 7, she should win this barring a fall or a below-par effort. The 2021 Cheltenham Mares’ Novices Hurdle (G2) winner #9 Telmesomethinggirl and three of the first four in the 2022 Cheltenham event  — #4 Marie’s Rock, #5 Mrs Milner, and #8 Stormy Ireland — look the best of the others for multiples.

  • $30 win: #3 Epatante
  • $1 trifecta: 3 with 4, 5, 8, 9 with all

Race 4: Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase, 3 miles, steeplechasers

In a handy field, two of the horses that fought out the finish last year may be able to get the big prize here. #7 Popong finished third last year and her form has continued to be solid, finishing second at her last start. She looks well-suited here. Last year’s runner-up #2 Ten Ten has only finished one of his races this year and was pulled up in the Irish National two weeks ago, but could be worth following in weaker company. Keep an eye also on #9 Recite A Prayer, who comes into this in very good form.

  • $10 win/$20 place: #7 Popong
  • $1 box exacta: 1, 2, 7, 9

Race 5: Ballymore Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle (G1), 2 miles, Four-Year-Old hurdlers

Good luck stopping the favorite here. #5 Vauban could not have been more impressive when winning the Triumph Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham, and it’s difficult to see any of his opponents making up the ground here. The horse he beat in his last two endeavors, #1 Fil Dor, looks formidable, as does the favorite’s stablemate #3 Il Etait Temps, fifth at Cheltenham, but neither are likely to turn the tables. The best chance of a good payout here is probably with exotics.

  • $10 win: #5 Vauban
  • $3 trifecta: 5 with 1, 3 with all
  • $1 trifecta: 5 with 2, 4, 6 with all