The evergreen Un De Sceaux turned the clock back to win the Champion Chase on Tuesday but Delta Work was the star turn for me and the 9 length Grade 1 Novice Chase scorer was cut to 12/1 from 33s for the 2020 Gold Cup at BetVictor. We suggested earlier in the week that if there was a Gold Cup winner in this year’s RSA Chase field it was likely to be the Gordon Elliot-trained novice although connections of winner Topofthegame and runner up Santini are sure to disagree.
Day three of the Punchestown Festival is today’s racing highlight. The Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle is not a vintage renewal, but I hope Cheltenham form is upheld courtesy of Bapaume (5.30) who is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time having finished fourth behind champion stayer Paisley Park at the Festival. The selection is 2/1 with BetVictor and, as a 6-y-old, he remains open to more improvement. Ruby Walsh takes the ride. An each way alternative is Not Many Left (10s with BetVictor) who remains open to significant improvement over this trip for Jessica Harrington.
The Grade 1 2m Novice Chase is a wonderful contest and sees two Festival winners go head-to-head. Duc de Genievres (2s at BetVictor) was a wide-margin winner of the Arkle but, arguably, the race fell apart behind him and the vote goes to JLT winner Defi Du Seuil (6.40) even though the former Triumph Hurdle winner has yet to win over the minimum trip over the larger obstacles.
The selection is 9/4 at BetVictor and, if he is within a couple of lengths of the lead going to the last, I feel he will be finishing best of all.
Elfile (7.15) meets nothing of the calibre of Honeysuckle – her conqueror at Fairyhouse over Easter – in today’s listed Mares’ hurdle but the drop back to the minimum trip this evening is a concern. The selection has little in hand of old adversary Black Tears, but there may be more to come from the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old despite reservations about the trip.
At Redcar the well-bred filly Solar Heights (2.55) is from the family of Dubai Millennium and is likely to get slightly further in time but today’s straight mile should see her staying on strongly. There is likely to be plenty of pace in the race and the James Tate string remain in good form.
Cristal Breeze (3.25) looks sure to come on for his racecourse debut when staying on into a never nearer fourth at Kempton. Already gelded, he is obviously not going to be one of the stable stars for William Haggas, but he showed enough on the all-weather to suggest he would be up to winning in today’s grade. Of the penalised runners I would favour the filly – and recent Pontefract winner – Melrose Way to last year’s C&D scorer Myrmidons.
In the finale at Musselburgh La Sioux (5.20) has a decent draw (4) for one who likes to race prominently, and Sebastian Woods takes off a valuable 5lbs aboard Richard Fahey’s 5-year-old who could take some pegging back if getting on the lead.
Alhakmah (5.55) can make it third time lucky at Salisbury for Richard Hannon. The filly finished runner up in both starts at Goodwood and Newbury as a juvenile over 6f and the hope is that today’s additional furlong will see her break her maiden tag.