4.20pm Punchestown Tips & Betting Preview 28/04/2017

Back up in trip after a decent enough run in the Grand Annual, LE PREZIEN should be far more competitive for Paul Nicholls and J P McManus. The six-year-old has won twice over fences from five runs, with the latest of those coming three starts ago at Exeter where he dispatched L’Ami Serge comfortably. His subsequent defeat to Top Notch was no disgrace in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and it was clear that he needed a step up in trip when unable to go the pace in the Grand Annual at the Festival on his latest start, not beaten far at all. He remains on the same mark and now that he is back to a suitable trip he should be far more competitive with conditions to suit and Mark Walsh opting to take the ride.

Things did not go the way of Diamond King at the Festival in March and he will be looking to make amends at Punchestown for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell. The nine-year-old was rated 155 over hurdles after winning the 2016 Coral Cup, though he is yet to match that sort of form over the larger obstacles for connections. Although winning easily on chasing debut at Galway in October, he has not built on that performance and he was disappointing when well beaten in the Drinmore Chase on his second chasing start where he made a number of mistakes. The same can be said of his Limerick run in Grade 2 company on his penultimate start and nothing went right at Cheltenham on his latest start, making a bad mistake in the rear before being hampered at the tenth by a faller and unable to recover. He is surely capable of better over these obstacles and the fact that he is rated nine pounds lower than he is over timber tells the whole story. If he were to spring into form he would be hugely dangerous off a mark of 146 on handicap debut over fences.

Arbre De Vie has had a difficult time of late and perhaps deserves some luck after two non-finishes in his last two runs for Willie Mullins. Lightly raced with only five runs over fences to date, he posted a career best over these obstacles when finishing a clear second to Acapella Bourgeois at Navan in January. He appeared at the Festival in the four miler, though the step up in trip was perhaps too far when he was starting to struggle down the side, clipping heels and unseating Katie Walsh before three out. At Fairyhouse it was much of the same when he was travelling well in midfield before being brought down at the eighth with no chance to avoid the faller. He should be much happier back down to this trip and Ruby Walsh retakes the ride with conditions in his favour. He has place claims at the very least and this strong stayer should be making his presence felt.

The Harrington yard can do no wrong right now and they have Woodland Opera representing them with Robbie Power taking the ride. The improving seven-year-old has been making good progress over fences this season since a promising fifth on chasing debut behind Haymount here in November. He built on that run to finish forth in a competitive heat over a shorter distance here two weeks later. His last two runs have undoubtedly been his best, finishing third to the smart Great Field at Leopardstown in March before easily taking victory at Fairyhouse three weeks ago. He makes his handicap debut off a mark of 142 which he is likely to be better than as he still looks very progressive and the ground is of no concern as he won here in similar conditions over hurdles at this meeting. He looks booked to go close and has to be respected.

Bryan Cooper opts for Balk Des Flos of the Gigginstown runners and it is not hard to see why, with the six-year-get to gri[psold slowly but surely getting to grips with life over fences for Henry De Bromhead. He got off the mark at the second attempt when winning easily at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day, leaving Arbe De Vie trailing in his wake and he certainly delivered a career best on his penultimate effort when third at Leopardstown in the Flogas Novice Chase. He was behind both Disko and Our Duke on that occasion and only beaten around six lengths, with that form obviously taking two big upturns of late. He fell four out in the JLT Novices Chase at the Festival when still in contention and a mark of 143 on handicap debut should not be enough to stop him putting up another bold bid. He would perhaps prefer slightly further on softer ground, but he has proven that he copes with this going and has won over this trip before, so he has chances in this field.

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