Shorter trip shouldn’t be a problem for Fiveforthree

CHELTENHAM hero Fiveforthree is the nap choice in the vcbet.com Champion Novice Hurdle, one of three Grade 1’s on the programme at the opening stage of the Punchestown Festival this afternoon.

The grey son of Arzanni made the trip across the Irish Sea woefully short on experience, but came through a stiff test with reputation greatly enhanced.

He had only one run over flights prior to Cheltenham, winning a moderate maiden by three lengths from Wheels Up at Fairyhouse.

The six-year-old showed he was a horse with a real future at Prestbury Park, however, buckling down in tremendous style in the closing stages to beat compatriots, Venalmar, Trafford Lad and Forpadydeplasterer, in the Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle.

That race was over an extended two and a half miles, and you could argue dropping down to two miles now could prove far from ideal.

But Ruby Walsh will surely go on on a fair way from home and Fiveforthree is fancied to outbattle the classy Jered, who does his best work on the bridle!

Walsh has real prospects as well in the other Grade 1’s aboard Twist Magic and Pomme Tiepy. If Twist Magic puts his best foot forward then he will be hard to beat in the featured Kerrygold Champion Chase.

He made no show at all in the two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham when a remote sixth behind the hugely impressive Master Minded.

But that was too bad to be true and his smooth defeat of Voy Por Ustedes in the Tingle Creek at Sandown is easily the best piece of form carried into this contest by any of the runners. He has to get the vote.

Fair Along, who was a distant third in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, and Schindlers Hunt, who won a handicap in game fashion at Fairyhouse, are surely best placed to take advantage, should Twist Magic produce another below-par effort.

Pomme Tiepy has plenty going for her in the Ellier Developments Champion Novice Chase, not least the fact she is in receipt of 14lbs from all of her opponents.

She went from strength to strength here at home, winning four in-a-row, before taking an uncharacteristic fall in the SunAlliance at Cheltenham, won by Albertas Run. Hopefully, the tumble won’t have affected her confidence.

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