Gigginstown House Stud look set to unleash a powerful team in many of the major races at next week’s five-day Punchestown Festival, which begins on Tuesday, April 29.
Three-time Grade 1 winner First Lieutenant is set to line up inWednesday’s €200,000 Grade 1 BIBBY FINANCIAL SERVICES IRELAND PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP and Gigginstown House Stud’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary revealed that the nine-year-old could sport head gear next week.
“First Lieutenant has been knocking on the door recently and he will go for the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup,”said O’Leary. “We will probably run him in blinkers as he could be getting a bit cute. In the same race we might also run Bog Warrior, who is very ground dependant, but he also has the option of the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.”
Savello, winner of the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase at Cheltenham for trainer Tony Martin, could step up to Grade 1 company on Tuesday for the €200,000 BOYLESPORTS.COMCHAMPION CHASE.
“There’s a possibility we could run Savello in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase, he probably deserves his chance in a race like that,”continued O’Leary.
Gigginstown have an outstanding team of novice hurdlers and chasers and Tiger Roll, winner of the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle, is set to take on Guitar Pete in the Grade 1 AES CHAMPION 4YO HURDLE onSaturday, May 3.
“Tiger Roll will run in the Grade 1,” said O’Leary. “He’s a nice, very unexposed horse, and we hope that going forward we should see more improvement given that Cheltenham was only his third ever run. So we would hope he is still improving. We’ll meet Guitar Pete again, and he is a very good horse, so it should be a great race.”
The Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli is set to step up from a runaway handicap win at Cheltenham to Grade 1 company and is entered in both theGrade 1 TATTERSALLS IRELAND NOVICE HURDLE over two and a half miles on Friday, May 2, and the three-mile Grade 1 IRISH DAILY MIRROR NOVICE HURDLE two days earlier.
“I haven’t spoken to Willie about the races but the plan is for Don Poli to run,” said O’Leary. “He was very impressive at Cheltenham but I wouldn’t get carried away by that. He won a handicap and still has a mountain to climb going into Grade 1 company. But he is a nice horse who is going to make a good staying chaser.”
Very Wood, winner of the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham for trainer Noel Meade, is being aimed at the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle while Grade 2 scorer Real Steel could line up in the two-mile Grade 1 HERALD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE on Tuesday, April 29.
“Very Wood is a nice horse and deserves to take his chance again. Whatever he does over hurdles is a bonus because he is going to be a nice staying chaser as well,” added O’Leary. “Real Steel could go for the two-mile novice hurdle.”
The Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle line-up could includeLieutenant Colonel, a 10-length winner at Fairyhouse on April 6, andValseur Lido, an easy Grade 2 victor the same day.
“Lieutenant Colonel will probably go for the two and a half mile Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle and Valseur Lido would run in the same race if he goes to Punchestown,” said O’Leary. “Valseur Lido is a nice horse, he had an interrupted prep for Cheltenham so it was good to see him come back from that.”
Gigginstown’s novice chasing team is set to include Don Cossack in the Grade 1 GROWISE CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE over three miles and a furlong on Tuesday, April 29, and Trifolium in the two-mile Grade 1 RYANAIR NOVICE CHASE on Thursday, May 1.
“Don Cossack will hopefully go for the Growise Novice Chase on Tuesday. He ran very well at Aintree last time,” continued O’Leary.“He was beaten by what was obviously a very good horse of Jonjo O’Neill’s (Holywell) and without him he would have been a decent winner. He has more to find again but I think he’s a better horse kept busy.
“Trifolium is obviously a much better horse on a soft surface so we hope for plenty of rain for him. He’ll probably go for the two-mile novice. “
Tell Us More, winner of a point-to-pointers’ bumper at Gowran Park onMarch 8, and Disputed, another ex-pointer, are likely to put in appearances during the week.
“Tell Us More is a nice horse who will improve on his win and both he and the four-year-old Disputed, who is with Eddie Hales,could go for one of the bumpers at Punchestown. We don’t target bumpers but if we have something suitable we’ll run,” O’Leary added.
Looking ahead to the next week, he continued: “It’s a fantastic meeting, Punchestown produce great ground and have brilliant racing. We look forward to it every year.”
CURTIS CONFIRMS AT FISHERS CROSS
The Rebecca Curtis-trained At Fishers Cross, who lost a shoe when second in the Grade 1 Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree, will bid to go one better in the three-mile LADBROKES WORLD SERIES HURDLE on Thursday, May 1.
“Hopefully, the plan for At Fishers Cross is to go to Punchestown for the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle,” said Curtis, who is based in the west of Wales.
“He seems to have come out of Aintree well and is in as good a form as ever really, so there is no reason why he shouldn’t run well.
“The shoe hanging loose at Aintree did not help him. He jumped a bit right and came back a little bit sore on it, so it must have hindered him, but he ran a great race.
“It looks like there is going to be a bit more cut in the ground at Punchestown and that should be ideal for him.”
CONCORDE HEADS TO BUMPER
“Silver Concorde will go for the Champion Bumper. He is very well and I am happy with him,” said Weld.
The Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival takes place fromTuesday, April 29, to Saturday, May 3. Full details available onwww.punchestown.com