Punchestown Festival to get underway

The Punchestown Racing Festival gets underway this afternoon, with most of the top English raiders expected to take their places in the field despite the travel restrictions over the last few days.

The Punchestown Racing Festival gets underway this afternoon, with most of the top English raiders expected to take their places in the field despite the travel restrictions over the last few days.

Officials at the Co Kildare course say that all of the big name English trainers have gone out of their way to ensure that their charges made the trip by boat to be involved at this year's festival, although there will be concerns about how many racing fans will have been able to follow them across the Irish Sea.

Today's card features three top-class races, the highlight of which has to be the Boylesports.com Champion Chase.

Sizing Europe, this year's winner of the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, will ignore his chance in the novices later this week to take on the likes of Twist Magic from the Paul Nichols stable, Ferdy Murphy's Kalahari King or Tom Cooper's Forpadydeplasterer.

The other two Grade One races on today's card are the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle and the Growise Champion Novice Chase, which will see the Willie Mullins-trained Midnight Club hoping to make up for his disappointing performance in the Jewson Hurdle at Cheltenham when he challenge's Colm Murphy's Zaarito.

The action gets underway at 3.40pm this afternoon.

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