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Punchestown Festival 2013 Live

| 24.04.2013

Greetings. Ben Woodward from Coral here! I am on site at Punchestown where i’ll be bringing you live coverage of day 2 of the 2013 renewal of the Punchestown Festival. I’m a stones throw away from all the jockeys and trainers, along with well respected punters who cleaned up in emphatic style yesterday, most notably with Your Wood in the last race, i saw some very colourful notes exchange hands between punters and bookies on that horse.

The time is now 2:20pm, and with the first race being in 1 hour 20 minutes, i’m off to see what i can find out from the trainers and jockeys themselves.

2:32Bayan a NR in the 16:20. Disappointing, there were some whispers around the press room for that one.

2:40 – Quite a few pundits fancy Captain Chris today, they feel Philip Hobb’s charge has a great chance in the Gold Cup.  Not for me personally.

2:50 – Press room gone errly quiet. Maybe i should head out to the parade ring to get feel for the atmosphere. The first race is a 2m 4f handicap hurdle which see’s Brain Who as the favourite. We’re currently 7-1 and there has been money for the horse all morning, despite the race being a competitive affair. On course the horse continues to be backed. This could get punters off to a great start on day 2.

15:00 – And just like that, Anthony Knott makes an appearance, Albiet brief.  Never seen someone enter and leave a room so quickly. Hunt Ball’s colourful owner came in to grab a sausage roll, not to chat to the press. The manner in which he was sneaky about it makes me want to do the same, this best be worth it.

15:05 – Yum.

15:11 – Now would be a good time to tell you about our enhanced double. We’re 5-1 that both Ballycasy and Sir Des Champs win. Nice.

15:23Big bet alert! Just saw a £1k bet on the nose for Brain Who in the 1st.

15:27 – Not long left to get 5-2 on Sir Des Champs with Coral. Our price bomb is proving popular!

15:32 – Horses are parading for the first race, an ultra competitive, tricky affair. Brain Who opens at 8-1, joint favourite with Questions Answered. Rawnaq and The Crafty Butcher 2nd favourites on 10-1

15:46 – Close! Beau Michael wins under David Splaine for the Total Recall Racing club at 25-1.

15:48 – Next up is the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Handicap for 4 year olds. Bayan was an interesting horse prior to his withdrawal. One of the first things i was told when arriving today was that i should back Bayan. The connections were incredibly confident before his withdrawal. Willie Mullens trained Call Me Bubbles is currently the favourite with us at 7/4. If you ignore his 10th place finish at Leopardstown over christmas (When beaten by the Cheltenham Festival winner Flaxen Flare), and focus on his 5 length win over Courage last time out, he should have a great chance.

16:40 – Sorry for the lack of an update. There is one simple reason for that. I decided to watch the race proper, and got stuck in a huge crowd! Took me a while to get back to the press room. The owners of Dalasiri could be heard all around Punchestown cheering their horse in, and who can blame them. I expected Gassin Golf to get up, but a poor jump at the last sealed his fate. Call Me Bubbles was bitterly disappointing in the end.

16:46 – Next up is the Irish Mail Novice Hurdle, a Grade 1 race which sees Ballycasey as the 9/10 favourite. The fact Walsh has chosen to ride Ballycasey instead of the 2nd favourite, Inish Island would be a positive if you backed Ballycasey, but Inish Island is a class horse. Twice he’s finished behind At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham and oozes potential class.

“I think Ruby may of chosen the wrong horse” – Matt Chapman

It’s the proven horse against a horse going up the grades today. Who are you with? At the prices Inish Island has to be the value at 9/4 with Coral. This should be a great race.

16:55 – 15,000e bet placed at evens on Ballycasey. Blimey!

17:01 – Silence. Never heard Punchestown so quiet. Morning Assembly (14-1) beats Inish Island with Ballycasey back in 3rd. Was anyone on it? No, didn’t think so. Well, apart from one guy in the press room who gave out a small cheer. He had the horse without the two favourites at 7-2. Decent, but gutting at the same time.

The winner cost 3000e, and nets a cool 49,600e for winning today. Good investment.

Coral have gone 14-1 on Morning Assembly to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle next year.

17:07 – Next up is the big one. I’m too scared now to say this is a race Sir Des Champs should have a great chance in. Thus far, fancied horses have been bitterly disappointing. For my own sanity i hope SDC turns up today and delivers the goods. The race is staked with talent, the never-not-placed Long Run, Gold Cup winner and placer, Captain Chris who battled all the way to the line with Long Run over Christmas is thrown into the mix here. Captain Chris will enjoy the conditions, and i’ve had an abnormally large amount of whispers for Captain Chris. There are some famous and shrewd punters within ear shot of me, and they all fancy Captain Chris.

If you took the 5/2 on Sir Des Champs earlier, you should be happy with yourself, if everything goes to plan, he should run a huge race.

17:17 – Ground is described as “Holding” by jockeys. David Splaine who rode the winner of the first has described it as holding. If you’re backed something that likes good ground, it isn’t looking good. Yikes.

17:20 – I am going to brave the crowd and get myself into a decent position to watch this race. This is the highlight of the day and i am hoping Mullins horses reverse the current trend of being disappointing to land this prize. Here’s to hoping. I won’t be back until after the race. Good luck whatever you’re on. May the force be with us (!).

17:22 – Just quickly: Willie Mullins: “I thought he ran a great race at Cheltenham and if he can do that again you’d have to be very hopeful. He came out of Cheltenham well and we’ve been happy with his preparation for today’s race. He has good form over the course and won a grade 1 novice over the same distance at the festival a year ago”

Lee Mottershead (Racingpost) “Wouldn’t surprise me if Long Run wins this, he deserves to win a grade one again”


17:52 WOW – What a race. Sir Des Champs gets up and denies the game Long Run, with First Lieutenant in third. Only just got back, as there was a lengthy stewards enquiry. Everyone was watching the big screen while the enquiry took place. Was a tense place.

17:58- Michael O’leary (Owner of Sir Des Champs) “I was hoping he’d win a bit easier, almost had a few heart attacks there. Great training performance to bring SDC back to top form after a tough race at Cheltenham”

17:59 “Punchestown Gold Cup winner Sir Des Champs is now 5/1 from 7/1 for next year’s Gold Cup ” Says Coral PR Manager Nicola McGeady

18:03 “I think he has very solid each way claims judging by his fine efforts at Cheltenham” say connections of The Liquidator, 11-2 from 7-1 for the 6:05

18:06 – The Liquidator has been backed from 7-1 to 4-1. Big move.

18:12 – Well, the info was good. The connections of The Liquidator told us he’d win, and he did.. Hope you were on!

18:20 – This race is a little tricky, cases can be made for quite a few of the runners here. Grade 3 Leopardstown winner Nadiya De La Vega brings possibly the best form, but the likes of Rubi Light would have a chance if putting his best foot forward. Tricky.

18:29 – I took 25-1 on Orpheus Valley earlier. I see it’s now 12-1 with Coral. Blimey! On appearance i like Rubi Light, Orpheus Valley and Canaly. Good luck with whatever you’re on.

18:34 – Rubi Light’s connections worried about having top weight on this ground. Hopeful as opposed to extremely confident.

18:50 – Looks like normal service is resumed. Favourite overturned again here at Punchestown as Klepht wins at 12-1. Up next is a right trappy affair. Very little form to go on, not even going to try and make sense of it. If i hear something interesting i’ll put it here.

19:05 – Think i’m going to sign off chaps. The crowds have dispersed and there seems to be little interest in this last race. The press room is almost completely empty. I hope you had a profitable day like me!

Fairy Island is good enough to win this” – Quote from an unnamed journalist – That’s all i can get you at this time!

19:14 – The irish are piling into Sizing Chile to make up for Sizing Machine and Sizing Europe both finishing 2nd yesterday. With form of 22 – Can he go one better?

19:15 – Ok, definitely powering down now.



Ben Woodward