Newmill can get back on winning trail in Champion

NEWMILL, so impressive in the race a year ago, is fancied to get back on the winning trail in the Kerrygold Champion Chase at the first stage of the Punchestown Festival this afternoon.

John Murphy's nine-year-old has had a mixed campaign, but has plenty going for him now and looks the one they all have to beat.

He's had just four races, enjoying a single success when surprising Macs Joy over flights at Gowran Park.

Newmill has only run twice over fences since Punchestown a year ago. He began by falling three out on this track in February, contest won by Nickname.

It was hardly the ideal preparation in his attempt to repeat last year's tremendous two mile Champion Chase success at Cheltenham and, given the circumstances, he was far from disgraced when taking fourth behind Voy Por Ustedes.

A couple of minor errors along the way were no help to the selection, but he should have derived considerable benefit from the outing.

River City finished third at Cheltenham, two and a half lengths ahead of Newmill, and, strictly on the book, is entitled to confirm the placings.

But for a horse who travels so well through his races, Noel Chance's charge doesn't always find as much as he threatens to do off the bridle and Newmill is fancied to beat him this time. Nickname, who has enjoyed a cracking season, is the other to consider and if the rain was to pour down then he would quickly become the choice.

Edward O'Grady's Clopf, who should strip fresh and well, gets the vote in the Champion Novice Hurdle. In the early part of the season, he looked a real star in the making, but then blotted his copybook when Hide The Evidence slammed him by six lengths in the Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December.

Conditions were atrocious that day, racing was abandoned after the Royal Bond, and, perhaps, Clopf simply wasn't at his best in any case.

He was given a long break, but looked in rude health when returning to action with a smooth victory on the level at Tipperary 12 days ago.

Snowy Morning and Aces Four, second and fourth respectively behind Denman at Cheltenham, will surely head the market for the Ellier Developments' Hanover Quay Champion Novice Chase!

Aces Four stumbled badly, when upsides Denman, after the third last and has since scored in a canter at Aintree. They will obviously be tough nuts to crack, but the progressive One Cool Cookie, who has to go right-handed, is the nap choice to beat both of them.

He jumped for fun when making all to beat Schindlers Hunt in the two and a half mile Powers' Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. One suspects, Charlie Swan's charge will be even better stepping up another five furlongs.

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