A field of four runners, headed by the superstar Douvan, will line up for Sunday’s Grade 2 Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown with the odds on Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite looking to extend his marvellous winning sequence to 13.
Douvan is a virtually unbackable favourite at 1/12 with sponsors Boylesports but trainer Mouse Morris will be represented by Smashing who carries the familiar colours of Alan and Ann Potts, winner owners of this prestigious race with Sizing Europe back in 2012 and 2013.
“Smashing is in good form and the ground will suit him. It will be the first time he’ll be getting his ground this season so it’ll be interesting,” Morris said.
Having won the Boylesports Irish Grand National and the English Grand National last year, Morris is represented by Folsom Blue in Sunday’s racinguk.com National Trial at Punchestown.
The first three home from last years renewal of the National Trial all appear again and Morris is hopeful that Folsom Blue can improve on last season’s third place finish.
“Folsom Blue will appreciate the trip and the ground and he’s well. It’s also his first time this season to get that real winter ground which he likes. He ran well in the race last year.”
The famous Punchestown cross country course will be in action for the PP Hogan Memorial Chase in which the locally trained Ballyboker Bridge bids to win the race for a third year in a row for trainer Peter Maher who is also represented by Mtada Supreme and Enniskillen.
Ballyboker Bridge caused a 20/1 upset in 2015 and beat Cantlow in the race last year and will face 13 rivals on Sunday, including the high class First Lieutenant who is a dual Grade 1 winner for Mouse Morris.
“He’s like myself, he’s not getting any younger, but he seems to enjoy the banks so we’ll see how he gets on Sunday.” Morris commented.
Enda Bolger will saddle three runners for JP McManus with Mark Walsh booked to ride recent point-to-point winner Colour Squadron for his first start in a cross country race.
Last year’s racinguk.com National Trial runner-up Baie Des Iles returns in a bid to go one place better for trainer Ross O’Sullivan and after finishing fifth behind Gold Cup bound Native River in the Welsh National last time, O’Sullivan is hoping for a big performance from the six-year-old.
“I was delighted with Baie Des Iles at Chepstow as the ground was probably a bit better than it normally is for the Welsh National and the key to this filly is testing ground and thankfully it looks like we are going to get that on Sunday. She ran well in the race last year and hopefully she can do something similar this time around, she is a year older and a year stronger.” O’Sullivan said.
Racing at Punchestown on Sunday begins at 1.30pm with a high class renewal of the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle in which Willie Mullins will saddle Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fancy Cilaos Emery.
Mullins is double handed in the listed contest with Camelia De Cotte also taking her chance in a fascinating race which will see Barry Geraghty ride the Gordon Elliott-trained Sire Du Berlais who was a winner in France last May before joining Elliott.