punchestown 27th Apr
Despite the adverse weather conditions, the Punchestown Festival continues on Friday, with a shortened five-race card featuring three Grade 1 events.
The rearranged Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase (4.55) kicks off some top-class fare and Philip Hobbs, responsible for last year's winner Captain Chris, will have high hopes again with Menorah, who was right back to his very best when handing out a beating to Cristal Bonus at Aintree's Grand National fixture last time.
Like many of these, such testing underfoot conditions are a slight negative for the British raider, and Mouse Morris has expressed similar concerns regarding RSA runner-up First Lieutenant, who also has a marked drop in trip to contend, although he and Menorah are a fair way ahead of the rest on official figures.
The novices are out in force again in the Grade 1 Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle and proven mud-lover Felix Yonger may be the one to beat, having chased home the exciting Simonsig at the Cheltenham Festival.
Already a Grade 2 winner on testing ground, he ticks plenty of boxes, although the improving pair of Jenari and Lyreen Legend have both enjoyed good seasons so far and should provide solid opposition.
Taking nothing away from the previously mentioned contests, there is no doubting that Hurricane Fly is the star attraction of the day as he bids for another win in the Grade 1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle.
Although having a bit to prove following his recent Champion Hurdle defeat, he has taken this contest for the last two years and shouldn't have to come out of first gear to see off stablemates Thousand Stars and Zaidpour.
The concluding Irish Thoroughbread Breeders Association Fillies Scheme Premier Bumper is less straightforward, but Lughnasa quickened up smartly when making a winning debut at Cork and rates a bright prospect, while Malt Master and Oscara Dara give Nicky Henderson a strong hand in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Novice Hurdle.
» All news for Fri, 27th Apr, 2012
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