A field of eight go to post for this Cross Country Chase to start off the card at Punchestown on Saturday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Ballyboker Bridge is a regular here and needs to be respected but this can go to COLOUR SQUADRON for Enda Bolger and Derek O’Connor, He ran well here over C&D two starts ago when only four lengths behind Ballyboker Bridge, who he meets on better terms this time around. He ran well for a very long way in the Glenfarclas Cross Country and will appreciate this step back in trip with better ground conditions likely to show his best. He can take a deserved victory with perhaps Mtada Supreme rounding out the places after a good run on Thursday before ducking out.
1 BALLYBOKER BRIDGE – Punchestown regular who finished third in last year’s La Touche and he hasn’t been disgraced this season for Peter Maher, finishing third over C&D behind Auvergnat in February. He backed up that effort when sixth in the Glenfarclas Cross Country at the Festival, rallying well and only beaten six lengths by the second (Cause Of Causes was a nine length run away winner). Another bold bid is likely despite carrying top weight and this plucky ten year old under Andrew Lynch should be going close, respected.
2 MTADA SUPREME – Posted a good effort on his penultimate start at Fairyhouse when second behind Coldstonesober, keeping on well and perhaps screaming for an extra few furlongs. That theory was backed up by his good run two days ago in the La Touche, as he was still going well coming towards three out when he ran out and unseated the rider in a bizarre looking incident. That did however show he was capable of a big effort in the top Cross Country races, so shouldn’t be written off in this if he has recovered well from the two day break. Interesting contender and needs a second look.
3 COLOUR SQUADRON – Returned from a long absence under rules when a good forth over C&D in February, only four lengths behind Ballyboker Bridge which was a highly respectable effort from the eleven year old. He ran well for a long in the Cheltenham Cross Country, only weakening towards the last and the drop back in trip should suit much better. Enda Bolger farms these races and will be looking for compensation after Cantlow’s narrow defeat in the La Touche and he looks to have a strong chance here with conditions to suit.
4 ENNISKILLEN – Won the Sean Breen Memorial Chase here on Tuesday over C&D and the form took a huge boost when Treo Eile won the La Touche on Thursday for the Slevin Team. He’s scheduled to run again on Friday in the Bishopscourt Cup and he looks likely to take his chance so if running again in this it would be a very tough ask after the two races he’s already run in this week/ This is arguably tougher than both his last two also and he may just be found out in this for Peter Maher.
5 FINISH IN STYLE – Second runner for Enda Bolger who has a record of 1-14 overall and was a long way behind a few of these in the C&D Risk Of Thunder Chase here back in November. He hasn’t been seen since which is concerning and on the balance of his form, he’ll need a big amount of improvement if hes’ to be threatening some of these. Possible place claims if some principles under perform but he’s not an assured stayer at this trip and others are preferred.
6 BLUE TEMPLAR – Very mixed form this season under rules and in the point to point sphere, though he wasn’t necessarily disgraced when third in the Sean Breen Memorial here over C&D on Tuesday, three lengths behind Enniskillen on that occasion. It’s quite hard to see him turning that form around though that rival if taking his entries will have run twice already this week, so could feel the excursions. Nevertheless, he has quite a lot to find with some of these ratings wise and despite conditions being to suit, these terms aren’t favourable for him and he’s likely best watched.
7 LOVE RORY – Forth runner for Enda Bolger and JP McManus, with this C&D perhaps not out of this if returning to the best of his form. He wasn’t necessarily disgraced here on Thursday when forth in the La Touche and he should be happier back down in trip, though that was a very taxing race and you’d have to have fitness reservations surrounding him this time. Bolger lets him take his chance and you wouldn’t go against his word, so if able to show his best with conditions to suit, he’d have place claims.
8 NEED TO KNOW – Yet to win from seventeen rules starts and he was no match for Enniskillen or Blue Templar when well beaten in the Sean Breen Memorial over C&D on Tuesday. On that basis he has too much to find and he remains opposable, as it’s hard to build up any sort of case for him.