Punchestown 96-1 accumulator: 3 fresh horses who avoided Cheltenham and Aintree

Energumene

Day one at the Punchestown Festival certainly had a few turn-ups for the books. It is quite evident that stars that we have seen running at Cheltenham and Aintree are usually peaked for those festivals.

Once those festivals are done and dusted, some of the horses that participated there can lose condition and fitness. It was clear to see from Tuesday’s meeting that some of the big names were feeling the effects of a tough campaign.

Form has imploded

Blue Lord for example was placed in two Grade 1s this year and was destined for second in the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham when a faller. He ran a poor race in the Champion Novice Hurdle when a well-beaten third behind Echoes Of Rain.

Allaho, who was electric when bolting up in the Ryanair Chase last month, never lifted a leg in the Champion Chase. Nube Negra, who was second in the Queen Mother last month, was beaten out of sight by Chacun Pour Soi who he had finished in front of last month.

Monkfish, who was seeking his eighth win in succession, including four Grade 1s, was mullered by Colreevy. The monster that was meant to be Envoi Allen was beat a long way from home.

Fresh is best

Clearly, this week as a punter you should be focusing on fresher horses or horses who didn’t compete in ultra-tough contests. I have picked out three horses on Thursday that fit the bill.

Willie Mullins is already cleaning up at Punchestown this week and he has another great chance with Unexcepted. The JP McManus-owned runner destroyed Entoucas in a beginners chase at Tipperary in October, a horse that subsequently went on to finish a short-head second in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last month. He is off a very fair mark here and could be well ahead of the assessor.

The majority of the field have had a hard season and ran at Cheltenham or Aintree or both. That isn’t the case for Matthew Smith’s high-class staying hurdler Ronald Pump, who has been off the track for 151-days. He missed out on the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham due to a splint in his front leg. He was last seen fighting out the finish with Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace, beaten just half a length and that mare has been devastating since.

This could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Willie Mullins’ Energumene who missed out at the Cheltenham Festival and if he did show up he might have been beaten by Shishkin. He was extremely impressive when winning all three starts over fences this season under Paul Townend, and demolished his rivals in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown when last seen.


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