7.10pm Punchestown Tips & Betting Preview 28/04/2017

With only two hurdling runs under his belt, perhaps the most interesting and unexposed runner in the field is Peter Fahy’s CASTLEGRACE PADDY who showed huge amounts of potential on both those hurdling runs. He made his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse in December when second to Minella Till Dawn. After another bumper run at Limerick, he then headed to Gowran Park for his second hurdling run. On that run his jumping was questionable at points, but in the end he stormed clear for a nine length success, never needing to come out of second gear. He remains unexposed and this better ground could help to eke out some further progress, with Davy Russell retaining the ride a big plus for obvious reasons. He looks set to go very close and needs to be paid close attention.

Willie Mullins runs four horses here and Ruby Walsh opts for Riven Light, which probably tells you that he is the stable first string for Rich Ricci. On his first run outside of France he won well at Thurles in December, easing clear by 12 lengths and, although that was a weak looking race, it was still a pleasing debut. He was far from disgraced when fourth at Leopardstown in Grade 1 company on his next start, however he has not made significant improvement since then. His best run came on his latest start when fourth in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse, half a length behind Montalbano. He remains with potential and conditions should be no problem, so he looks set to go close and has to be respected as such.

With only three Irish hurdling runs thus far for Willie Mullins, Montalbano looks likely to have more to offer for Rich Ricci and should not be discounted, despite being shunned by Ruby Walsh. Winning on Irish debut at Leopardstown in December, he then gave a poor effort at the same venue in Grade 2 company. However, he subsequently went on to finish a good third at Fairyhouse in a Grade 2 in April, finishing ahead of stablemate Riven Light by half a length. As previously mentioned, Ruby Walsh is opting for Riven Light who he beat which raises questions. Nevertheless, Montalbano remains with plenty of progress and these better ground conditions look likely to suit based on his flat runs in France for the Ferland yard. He should be on the premises and should not be discounted purely on the basis that Ruby has gone elsewhere as Patrick Mullins is a very good alternative.

Henry De Bromhead will be hoping that Avenir D’Une Vie can leave behind a poor effort at Fairyhouse on his latest start to return to winning form in this. Taking victory on his seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse in November with a comfortable success ahead of Aussie Reigns, the seven-year-old was bitterly disappointing in Grade 2 company at the same venue earlier this month where he was well beaten by both Montalbano and Riven Light. He is obviously capable of much better, but that effort does leave a question mark as he is very much unproven in Graded company over timber. However, this return to better ground may help us to see some better results. He remains risky after that run and, despite Bryan Cooper taking the ride, he would have place claims only for us.

Mullins is seemingly giving this race everything he has and Chateau Conti is his third big dart that he is throwing at the board. Easily winning on Irish debut at Cork, the five-year-old had a big reputation coming into his first graded action at Leopardstown in February. He was sent off 12/1 and ridden by Mikey Fogarty, but he was only able to muster up sixth after weakening two out, so on that basis the step up in trip did not have the desired effect. He did not then do anything to prove that when well beaten at Fairyhouse when last seen in the race where Montalbano was third, pulling up before the last in a poor performance. Clearly he is now very risky to back, but is hard to rule him out fully due to that first run four months ago. Possible place claims if back to his best, but he is not for the faint-hearted.

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