Updated 9:27 - all selections online.
Roconga proved a bitter disappointment switched back to hurdles here on the opening day but hopefully LE VAGABOND (3.40) can perform better than his stable-companion in the 2m handicap hurdle that kicks off today’s card.
The five year-old, who came off worst by a neck as the pair dominated a valuable 1m4f handicap at Cork over Easter, now reverts to jumping off what looks an extremely attractive mark of 119 (ran off 93 on the level last time), and if managing a proficient round of jumping should be hard to beat.
Considering her lack of experience, GOOD THYNE TARA ran a fine race to be fourth to Augusta Kate at Fairyhouse eleven days ago and now rates an interesting candidate for the 2m mares novice hurdle at 7.15.
The daughter of Kayf Tara had just a Clonmel maiden win to her name going into that Grade 2 and in the circumstances to be beaten just over seven lengths by the winner after a few mistakes was a highly creditable effort.
She should be fresher than most here after just two outings since the turn of the year, and while jockey bookings might suggest that Asthuria is Willie Mullins’s chief hope events over the first two days have emphasised the yard’s apparent second and third strings can often be major players at this fixture.
POWERSBOMB ran a smashing race to finish fourth in the novice handicap chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival, overcoming several blunders to hold every chance turning in before weakening up the hill.
The talented seven year-old should appreciate the drop back to two miles for the Grade 1 at 6.40, and while this is obviously a step up in grade only market leader Great Field appeals as a genuine top-class prospect. 16/1 therefore looks big without the favourite.
SHOWEM SILVER won so well at Fairyhouse that a 12lb hike might not be enough to stop him following up in the 3m handicap hurdle at 6.05. The son of Winged Love is once again at the right end of the weights and remains open to substantial improvement over this sort of trip on decent ground.
Robert Tyner’s horses have been going well this week and MIDNIGHT STROLL might be able to put it up to Cheltenham fourth Next Destination in the finale. The Midnight Legend gelding showed up very well at Newbury on debut at a time when the yard was not in great form generally and is entitled to improve significantly.
Gary's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1pt each-way LE VAGABOND (6-1 bet356, Befrded, BetVictor)
1pt win SHOWEM SILVER (10-1 Betfair Sportsbook, 9-1 bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power)
6.40 PUNCHESTOWN - BETTING WITHOUT GREAT FIELD
1pt each-way POWERSBOMB (16-1 Paddy Power, 14-1 bet35, Betfred, Totesport)
2pts each-way GOOD THYNE TARA (11-2 general)
1pt win MIDNIGHT STROLL (9-2 general)