Today’s card at Punchestown plays host to some top prospects for the season ahead, but may result in a number of short-priced favourites.
Tycoon Prince is a member of that elite group of horses to have won three bumpers, and can get his hurdling career off to a winning start in the opening maiden.
His sole defeat in four outings came on debut when he finished fourth behind Moon Racer, who went on to land the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham for David Pipe.
After that he ran out an impressive winner at Galway, Fairyhouse and Naas and was then put away for the season.
A half-brother to Puffin Billy, who ended his novice season over fences on a mark of 155, this son of Trans Island is clearly another leading prospect, and take a positive first step on what should be a big season.
Amongst his rivals is Joshua Lane, who finished third behind Sunday’s November Handicap winner Silver Concorde in the Cheltenham Bumper of 2014.
He has clearly had his problems since, but a market move would be significant. Also worth noting is De Name Escapes Me, who finished third behind Sandymount Duke on his only start over hurdles, and looks an obvious improver.
Sizing John was one of the leading two-mile novice hurdlers of last season, and this exciting chasing prospect should get off to a winning start in the five-runner Beginners’ Chase. Trained by Henry de Bromhead, he finished third behind Douvan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and ended the term running up behind the same rival in the Grade 1 at Punchestown.
Although his four rivals have all shown ability, he should prove a class apart, and, with a clear round of jumping, can land likely short odds.
No More Heroes was another top-class novice hurdler who also looks likely to even better over fences, and he can making a winning chase debut in the two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase. The six-year-old was arguably unlucky when third behind Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham, and is easily forgiven his heavy defeat at Punchestown on his last outing.
Trainer Gordon Elliott has reported the son of Presenting to have schooled well and, as with Sizing John, he looks a step ahead of his rivals.
Fine Article, being an imposing half-brother to Joncol, should improve for fences, and must be respected, while it’s interesting that winning pointer Fair Return, though only five, makes his racecourse debut over fences.
Ice Cold Soul can take the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle for Noel Meade. The point to point winner looked smart when justifying odds-on favouritism on debut, in a Cork bumper, and followed up at Limerick.
He was well beaten when seeking his hat-trick, in a hot race at Fairyhouse, but should appreciate this longer trip on his first start over hurdles. There are some decent sorts in opposition, including the potentially smart Golan Lodge, who is likely to leave his Listowel effort well behind. However, Ice Cold Soul comes from a stable in top form and can continue the great run of owners Gigginstown and jockey Bryan Cooper.
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