Golden Silver and Kempes both gave Willie Mullins Grade 1 wins at the 2010 Punchestown Festival and are aiming to repeat the feat this time around.
Golden Silver landed the 140,000 euros Grade 1 Boylesports.com Champion Chase over two miles and is aiming to lift the crown once more, although he will have to get the better of the three horses that finished in front of him in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month, Sizing Europe, Big Zeb and Captain Cee Bee.
Mullins revealed: “We would prefer winter ground for Golden Silver but he won the race last year and he seems to like Punchestown. He is a horse that has been raced hard all year but he seems to take it and enjoy it, so we certainly couldn’t stay at home. He deserves a crack at it and goes there with a big chance.”
Kempes took the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase last year and added a further Grade 1 win when taking the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.
The J P McManus-owned eight-year-old disappointed connections when pulled up behind Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time and now seeks redemption in the 160,000 euros Grade 1 Guinness Gold Cup over three miles and a furlong on Wednesday, May 4.
Mullins commented: “I was very disappointed with Kempes at Cheltenham – he didn’t run at all in the Gold Cup. We have given him a break and hopefully we will have him back, ready for Punchestown again.”
A total of 12 Punchestown Festival races closed on Wednesday 13th April including the 75,000 euros Mick The Tent Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase and the 80,000 euros www.thetote.com Handicap Hurdle and both have attracted fantastic entries.
The two mile, five furlong Mick The Tent Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase on Friday, May 6, sees 71 entries, including the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking, winner of the Grade Two Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree recently, and the mare Aura About You, winner of a Grade 3 for trainer Paul Nolan last time.
Others include Blazing Tempo, C’est Ca, Carrigmartin, Mamlook, Loosen My Load, Torphichen, Wicklow Lad and Some Target.
The www.thetote.com Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles has 65 entries, with Willie Mullins responsible for 11 including Sir Des Champs, Ballyhaunis, Call The Police, Barker, Dorset Square and Jayo.
Paul Nolan has engaged recent Aintree hero Far Away So Close as well as Westmeath, while others include the Edward O’Grady-trained Catch Me, The Noel Meade-trained Silverhand, Cheltenham Festival winner What A Charm and the Gordon Elliott-trained Russian War.
The Punchestown Festival takes place from Tuesday, May 3, to Saturday, May 7, 2011 and includes 11 Grade 1 races over the five days. First race 3.40pm (2.30pm Saturday).