Exactly three weeks after the Grand National Festival got underway at Aintree, the Punchestown Festival is fully underway as we approach the final two days of the jumps fixture.
Friday’s action at the County Kildare course features the Grade 1 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, with two contenders returning to action after their Aintree antics.
Abacadabras bounced back from his Cheltenham fall to land his second Grade 1 success of the season in the Aintree Hurdle, holding off the late challenge from Nicky Henderson’s Buzz to win by a length and a quarter.
Jason The Militant unseated Rachael Blackmore five out in the same contest when in the lead and the seven-year-old will be hoping to put in a better performance here.
Dostal Phil can continue to show further promise over fences in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase after shaping well for third in the Red Rum Handicap Chase, but he faces a seriously competitive field that includes the likes of Asterion Forlonge and A Wave Of The Sea.
Billaway is aiming to return to winning ways in the Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase after failing to justify favouritism at both Cheltenham and Aintree, while Rewritetherules will be hoping to be more competitive in the Paddy Power Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup after being pulled up at the Merseyside track.
Saturday sees a trio of runners in action, with a Grand National contender featuring in the Colm Quinn BMW Group Handicap Chase.
Anibale Fly has struggled to recreate his form of the 2018/19 season that saw him finish second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and fifth in the National, but Tony Martin will be hoping that the drop in class could revive him.
Versatile handicapper The Shunter returns to the smaller obstacles in the BARONERACING.COM Handicap Hurdle after featuring in Group 1 company in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase and is joined by Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle winner Tronador.