Punchestown Race Preview, 14/11/2020

Punchestown
Saturday November 14th

Several hours of rain forecast up to race time

Punchestown 12:50
Alanna Homes Handicap Chase Grade B
2m3f150y – Going: Soft to Heavy (Heavy in places) – 18 runners

Bapaume
High-class hurdler but one lacking in wins. Form nowhere near the same over fences, and though he won at Naas in December his other three chase-runs have been double-digit defeats, including behind Samcro in Marsh Novices’ at the Cheltenham Festival, midfield approaching 7th, in close to 9th, mistake 10th and lost ground, made up the ground and went well enough at most 4 lengths down approaching 3 out, shaken up after it, just about in touch with leaders home turn, faded approaching 2 out, ridden and didn’t appear to be striding out well between last 2, well held when in close to last. Best watched
Tornado Flyer
Two novice chase wins last season; best form when 3rd to Faugheen and Easy Game in Grade 1 Flogas at Leopardstown in February, made ground and tracked leaders before mistake 3 out, shuffled back a little and niggled along approaching 2 out, ridden away from it, pushed along and outpaced approaching last, no extra run-in under pressure. Ran okay, but lazily,when 5th to Samcro in Marsh at the Cheltenham Festival, niggled along and struggling in rear of main group after 13th, in close to 3 out, hard ridden away from it, stayed on and closed on them approaching home turn, a lot to do turning in but closed on leaders a little before steadied into 2 out, put under pressure, picked up a bit approaching last, driven, stayed on into 5th final 175 yards, nearest finish. Has a chance
Salsaretta*
This mare is four from four over fences, getting her third win when making all at Thurles in February from three rivals and not hard pressed to beat Caravation readily with a bit in hand, and her fourth when going in at Limerick in March although that time it was fortunate; led 8th, disputed lead when jumped right 11th, raced wide, headed 12th, nudged along approaching home turn 2 lengths behind leader, taken wide off the bend, was 4 lengths behind and beginning to look held when left clear by the repposing Tintangle’s fall 2 out, hung right approaching last, not hard ridden to maintain clear lead last 150 yards, unchallenged from Ask Mary. Has claims on reappearance – expect to see her up with the pace
Castlebawn West
Only chase win to date when going in at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day; best form when 4th to Faugheen in Flogas at Leopardstown in February, went 3rd from 7th, jumped right 9th, shuffled back to 4th 11th, moved comfortably enough approaching 3 out, closed on 1st 2 approaching 2 out where mistake, lost a couple of lengths, pushed along and stayed on home turn, put under pressure and outpaced approaching last, well held when left 4th, driven, no impression on 1st 3 – a good effort till approaching the last, but shaped as though needing to go right-handed. Not a factor behind Champ in RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when last seen, blundered 14th and rider nearly unseated, came away from it in a detached last, made up ground and in touch though rear going down the hill to 3 out, raced wide, passed a few and midfield under a ride, outpaced as leaders went for home and looked held when blundered and unseated rider 2 out. A bit to find at the weights but unexposed
Zero Ten
Has won two from four over fences, including best to date when winning 2m2f Grade 3 novice at Thurles in March, tracked leaders when stuttered into and slow 4th, chased leader from 8th, a bit slow 3 out but travelled best approaching home turn, drew upsides Sizing Pottsie and about to go on when left in front 2 out, pushed along and stayed on well between last 2, steadied into and left clear last, at most nudged out, unchallenged by 14 lengths from Dunvegan. Gave the impression he had plenty left and would have won anyway, but going forward his jumping must improve (flat-backed and slow on several occasions there). Fit from an outing on the Flat at Naas on November 1st, should play an active part here
Farclas
The 2018 Triumph Hurdle winner hasn’t been out since June 2019; won all three chase starts that Summer culminating in a narrow verdict over Stormey at Roscommon when last seen on a racecourse, chased leader, steady pace for the first circuit, pace increased 6th, appeared to lose action 7th and lost ground on 1st 2 as they pressed on, ridden along, stayed on going to 3 out, led a length 2 out, hung right but continued to stay on, ridden out from last, found enough, workmanlike and not that impressive. He looked to be feeling something after the fourth last as he didn’t stride with fluency at that point, but found enough in the straight, and gut feeling is that he was below his best. All three of his chases have been on good ground and softer going – which he’ll very much get – is probably required; has a 522-day absence to overcome, but that sort of thing is often not an issue with a Gordon Elliott-trained horse
Visioman
Lines up on a hattrick and, after winning at Kilbeggan in September (on and off the bit, giving the impression he’d prefer a more galloping track) posted a career-best at Limerick last time, raced 3rd after 5th, not so far ahead after 7th, moved comfortably but a bit to do 3 out, pushed along turning out of back straight and stayed on, took 2nd under a ride and closed on Djingle home turn, sustained effort from 2 out, reeled in leader and led last, ridden out, stayed on well to pull clear. Albeit with a soft target to aim at it was a genuine effort, jumping soundly and staying on well; ground is a question mark, but other than that good claims
Voix Des Tiep*
Best run when completing the course last season was his 2nd to Annemix at Fairyhouse last January, always 1st 2 and jumped soundly, niggled along 2 lengths down approaching 2 out, in close to it, hard ridden between last 2, one pace approaching last, some 5 lengths down jumping, no more, eased last 100 yards when safe in 2nd. When last seen out looked the most likely winner at Gowran Park in February when ill-luck happened,  led 8th, in close to 9th, nudged along approaching home turn, moving best and looking the most likely winner when in close and as-good-as-fell 3 out, not recover, immediately eased down and pulled up before 2 out, Spyglass Hill the beneficiary. Good chance here
Dunvegan
Arguably best effort in three chase starts last season when making a winning chasing debut over 2m at Fairyhouse in December, challenged for 2nd approaching 9th and took the place jumping, closed on clear leader approaching 3 out and moved comfortably when left in clear lead by Breaken’s fall, some 15 lengths in front home turn, still on the bit last, nudged out to beat Valdieu – probably would have won anyway. Subsequently fortunate 2nd to Zero Ten in Grade 3 novice chase at Thurles in March, prominent approaching 3 out, mistake there and lost ground, firmly pushed along, no extra, looked held when left 4th 2 out, kept on under a ride and took well-held 3rd approaching last, no impression when left 2nd last, kept on. Would have been 4th but for the fallers in the straight but ran okay despite mistakes; fit from an outing on the Flat last month, has chances here
Daly Tiger
Didn’t add to his Tipperary chase debut-win last season, a couple of errors on his way to running 3rd to Brahma Bull at Cork in November, then jumped left on his way to finishing a remote 3rd to Yaha Fizz at Punchestown in February. When last seen ran 9th to Imperial Aura in the novices’ handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival,  stayed on under a ride approaching home turn, raced wide and further progress to be at most 3 lengths down home turn, half a chance when mistake 2 out, weakened under pressure after, well held when ran down last to left. Goes well fresh but jumps left and isn’t the strongest at the finish
Press Conference
Some promise on chasing debut behind Faugheen at Punchestown in November, niggled along approaching 9th, ridden into it, niggled again after 11th, made ground when ridden into 4 out, niggled along approaching 3 out, ridden into it and pecked on landing, hard ridden home turn and outpaced some 6 lengths down, put under pressure between last 2, kept on but no impression approaching last, driven run-in, kept on though unable to make a place, 4th beaten 15 lengths; was tailed off on both subsequent starts, dropping away from approaching the home turn at Gowran Park in February when last seen behind Spyglass Hill (and Voix Des Tiep, if he hadn’t as-good-as-fell at the second last). First run for Gordon Elliott here but he has around a stone of improvement to make
The Long Mile*
Good season in 2019/20 and won three of his last four chases, culminating in best effort to date in Grade B Shamrock Handicap Chase at Gowran Park in March, prominent 9th, further ground and tracked leaders approaching home turn, travelled best approaching 3 out, ridden into it, chased leader there, ridden along, upsides leader 2 out, hard ridden and stayed on between last 2, mistake last, hard driven, led 150 yards out, ridden out, stayed on well to beat Diamond Turf. Progressing when last seen, has a strong chance here
Pont Aven
No further chase wins after his fencing debut-success at Wexford in May 2019 but posted form as good when runner-up to Mon Storm at Sligo over 3m in September that year, disputed lead and if anything going best when steadied into 2 out, shaken up, stayed on, was immediately challenged by winner, led half a length last, hard driven, 1st 2 pulled clear, headed 150 yards out, no extra final 75 yards. Was given three tough asks in three of the better handicap chases on his last three starts and didn’t complete any of them, in Thyestes at Gowran Park in January when last seen led 5th, headed 12th, chased leader when mistake 13th, niggled along and lost ground and places, blundered 4 out, weakened, pulled up in the straight behind Total Recall. Doesn’t have a good record fresh, or on this ground, and not for me
Castle Oliver
Completed a hattrick when winning his third chase in a row at Naas in February, taking the competitive Grade B novices’ handicap chase: blundered 6th, lost a bit of ground and niggled along away from 7th, prominent to midfield when niggled along passing omitted 4 out, mistake 3 out and hard ridden away from it, a bit to do in 5 lengths 8th home turn, ridden along, steadied into 2 out, put under pressure between last 2, switched wide, jumped last in 5th some 3 lengths down, hard driven, strong effort last 175 yards, led half a furlong out, stayed on well to draw clear, decisive in the end from Countess Cathleen. Was tailed off in Leinster National at Naas behind Cap York in March when last seen. Unexposed and chances, although hasn’t been at his best on first run of the season up to now
Tintangle
Blows hot and cold; we saw the best of her at Limerick in March, led, tended to jump slightly left, headed 8th, mistake 9th, chased leader till led 12th, drew 4 lengths clear home turn, looked to have the measure when mistake and unseated rider 2 out, Salsaretta the beneficiary. We saw the worst of her on her reappearance at Clonmel last month, ridden into 4th, pushed along approaching 5th and carried head to one side, mistake 6th, lost place approaching 3 out, reminders and struggling turning out of back straight, just about tailed off 2 out, made no contribution behind Western Victory. It might be that she needs to dominate, which she won’t be able to do here
Demain Des L’aube
Yet to win since joining Henry De Bromhead; finished weakly when 6th to Jerandme at Kilbeggan in July, prominent 7th, headway after 3 out, with leaders till mistake 2 out and pushed along away from it, no impression under a ride and looked held last, no more run-in, faded last 150 yards, and again weak at the end when 3rd to Line Out at Punchestown in September, moved comfortably bend before 4 out, chased leader there, bumped rival 3 out, pushed along approaching home turn, lost 2nd approaching 2 out where mistake, driven, kept on but looked held between last 2, carried head high, dropped well back before last. Not for me in this better race
Spades Are Trumps
Hasn’t won for getting on for three years. On first run of the season, produced his best effort over fences when 2nd at Wexford last month, held up rear, in close to 1st, slow 2nd, nudged along 4th, closer order racing wide approaching 7th, moved largely comfortably after 3 out, widest of all as made good ground to move upsides leaders approaching home turn, niggled along turning int, took 2nd 2 out, pushed along, no impression approaching last, lost 2nd early on run-in, kept on to take the place last 150 yards, no chance with winner. After some early sticky jumping, at the time that he edged into 2nd going well Scoir Mear had slipped the field, and he lacked pace after that, briefly slipping to 3rd after the last and beaten 6 lengths. Wears first-time cheekpieces and could go well
Stones And Roses
Got a chase win at Cork in November 2019, led 4 out, niggled along approaching 3 out, ridden along and stayed on approaching 2 out, sustained effort between last 2, was 5 lengths up last, driven out, stayed on well in clear lead run-in, unchallenged from Randalls Ur Poet, but has been regressive since, pulled up in Punchestown Grand National Trial when last seen, niggled along and reached for 4 out, pushed along, couldn’t hold place, mistake 3 out when losing ground, dropped away by 2 out. Reappearing here, he doesn’t have a good fresh record and is passed over

Shortlist: Salsaretta, Voix Des Tiep, The Long Mile

Copyright Roy Waterhouse 2020. All rights reserved.