Day four of the booze and puntfest that is Punchestown, dear reader, and today's fare not only sees Ladies' Day but also a brilliant hurdle race at 5.30. Tenacious Champion Hurdle winner and reigning race winner, Punjabi, takes on up and coming young lady, Quevega, who was just brilliant at Cheltenham.
The supporting cast sees Solwhit (impressive Aintree Hurdle winner, who beat yesterday's impressive winner here, Fiverforthree); Sizing Europe; Muirhead; Hardy Eustace; and, Jered all try to take them on.
To put the race into context, the reigning Champion Hurdle winner is only THIRD favourite to win today.
It is an amazing cast of champs, and should truly be a race to savour. But who the heck is going to win it?!
The stats tell us that no favourite has won for nine years, and yet the last six jollies all finished second!
Nine out of the last ten horses were aged 7 or younger, the exception being Silent Oscar. We'll lose the two outsiders, Ebaziyan and the once-brilliant veteran Hardy Eustace. Doesn't really help us that much though...
Although not that many have tried, no mare has won the race in the last decade which, allied to the favourites' frustrating record, puts me off Quevega (despite her brilliance at Cheltenham).
But... eight of the last ten winners came from the first three in the betting. This brings in Solwhit and Punjabi. Although the former's best form is over further, and Punjabi is a pure two miler, I think that Solwhit looks the most likely winner in the ground today. It will be testing ground, there is a fair chance that Hardy will take them along apace, and Solwhit has been highly progressive this Winter.
I'll only be having a small wager, because there are many other credible alternatives. But what a humdinger of a race to savour!
Later on, there is a cracking novice hurdle featuring a showdown between Mikael d'Haguenet and Cousin Vinny. Mikael has the form in the book, but ostensibly 4/6 is not a great price. Accommodate the following facts though:
- 4 of the last 5 favourites won
- 7 of the last 8 winners also won last time out
- The last 11 winners were aged 5 or 6
- 11 of the last 12 winners were Irish trained.
On form, and on the stats, Mikael looks bombproof. I'll be doubling him up with Solwhit, sitting back, and savouring.
Not much time today, so back tomorrow with a view of the 2000 Guineas AND the Kentucky Durrby (heathens! with apologies to any US readers 😉