3.40pm Punchestown Tips & Betting Preview 27/04/2016

A handicap for apprentice jockeys to have a chance to show what they’re made of, and with every horse in the field available at double figure odds it looks like a competitive event to kick off the day.

Steamboat Bill (14/1) went off as the short priced favourite in his last run at Down Royal, producing a fast finish on heavy ground to win by half a length, a victory that would have really impressed his trainer Gordon Elliott. He was much less fancied in his two runs before that win, but still produced two very solid runs, jumping well and showing good flat speed to finish inside the paid places on both occasions. He’s shown his best form so far on heavy ground, but Jack Kennedy reported he hated the conditions last time out and there will be more to come on this better surface.

Dermot McLoughlin would have been just as surprised as everyone when 33/1 shot Shamiran (33/1) staying on well to claim a narrow victory in this race last year. His results since then haven’t been good, the distant eighth he managed as his last run being his best result from his four handicap appearances. Even though his mark has remained largely the same, it’s unlikely he will be in the mix to win it for a second successive year.

The highest rated horse in this handicap will be Poker School (20/1), who has recovered from a poor opening run of the season at Ludlow to record three very creditable results in recent races. He lost out by a neck to the strong favourite at Huntington in January, before narrowly coming out on top of a good quality field at Kempton. Last time out, he was fourth in a tough race at Uttoxeter, so he will bring plenty of confidence into the race. The six year old has generally been inconsistent but he’s put together three good runs in a row now and while he may be getting a little high in the handicap he may be able to nick a place at a big price.

The current favourite – although that is almost certainly going to change through the day – is Conor O’Dwyers Go Darsi Go (12/1). A big price runner up last time out behind a Gordon Elliott horse which finished 3rd in a valuable Novice Handicap a month later, he was possibly given too much to do that day and a 4lb rise could underestimate him with Ricky Doyle having previous experience on board.

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