3.40pm Punchestown Tips & Betting Preview 26/04/2017

Running well in maiden company for Liam Kenny, perhaps the step into handicaps can help A RATED gain his first win for connections. With form figures of 4344 since switching to racing over timber, he’s always been on the premises of his races before being unable to go the pace of the leaders towards the end. He’s starting off on a mark of 116 for the handicaps, which is very workable and perhaps one that he can exploit to very good effect in this. This €57,000 purchase should do much better now that he’s in this company and conditions will be fine, so expect a bold bid under Barry Browne.

Winner of the race 12 months ago, and in fact a three time winner of the contest in the past five years, Shamiran arrives in no such form just like last season which makes him difficult to assess. Taking the race off a pound lower mark last season, he’s been campaigned mainly over fences with only one hurdling run since, finishing eighth at Gowran Park back in February where he was well beaten. The same can be said for all of his chasing runs where he hasn’t looked likely to land a blow and he makes no appeal on his form this season. The problem, however, lies in the fact that this was the same case 12 months ago, so he’s hard to dismiss entirely for Dermot McLoughlin. Possible place claims if back to his best but at the age of 12 the suspicion would have to be that he’ll find at least one too good in this.

Another who is out of form the last twice, Bilko still remains with potential for top connections and it would be no surprise if he were to spring back to life in this. He showed abundant promise on his first three hurdling runs, winning a maiden at Cork in ready fashion before a good third behind Bel Ami De Sivola at Fairyhouse in December, only beaten around a length. He has been disappointing on his last two outings since switching to handicaps. Having said, he can perhaps be forgiven the run on his second handicap due to a terrible blunder at the first and more around the trip were his undoing. He needs to jump with more fluency this time around and, although the handicap keeps him on the same mark, he cannot be discounted and he has place claims at the very least.

Harry Fry sends over his J P McManus owned Drumcliff who should be much more comfortable down in class after his latest run in listed company. Yet to win over hurdles in five attempts, he has shown promise on a few occasions, including a good second at Kempton on his penultimate start when finishing with a rattle behind Bigmartre. He was far from disgraced when fifth in the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh in February, unable to go the pace when the wick was turned up by the front four. Judging by that run and his pedigree in general, this step up in trip should suit him greatly and produce some further improvement from the six-year-old. He has been dropped 4lb in the handicap since his latest run and, with the assistance of Andrew Ring, he looks set to go close for top connections.

One of the more unexposed runners, Crossed My Mind has only had three runs in maiden company thus far, but he’s shown enough to suggest he’ll be competitive in this for A L T Moore. Unseating his rider at the seventh on hurdling debut at Cork in January, he improved on that to finish a good forth at Leopardstown two weeks later, keeping on and doing his best work later on in a race won by Melon. His first victory came on his latest start with a comfortable victory at Wexford, going clear with ease which gained him a handicap mark of 116. He is a likely type to do better now he’s upped in trip and shouldn’t be discounted by any stretch.

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