Updated 9:25, 9:52 - all selections online.
The opening day of the Punchestown Festival presents its usual tricky puzzle for punters, and while each of the three Grade 1 events are fascinating in their own right nothing really stands out at the prices.
A lot of the early value has dried up in the 2m handicap hurdle but there is probably still just about enough juice in the prices of TEN TEN and Golden Spear to split stakes between the pair.
The first-named is the least experienced member of the field, having had just two previous starts, but such was the impression he created on each occasion that it’s hard not to believe Philip Dempsey’s charge could be a good deal better than an initial mark of 125 suggests.
He is actually 3lb better off with his Down Royal maiden victim Dis Donc today, and the fact that jockey Mark Walsh is prepared to get down to 10-0 with no mention of overweight (10-2 is the lightest he has done in the last twelve months) helps further in making the case for the promising five-year-old.
GOLDEN SPEAR is a much more exposed sort but he has long given the impression he could be capable of snaring a valuable contest like this and, indeed, he has gone close on a few occasions off similar marks in the past.
A dual premier handicap winner on the flat, he caught the eye when a never-nearer fourth on his return from a winter break at Leopardstown last month and up-and-coming claimer Liam Quinlan helps reduce his burden by 7lb.
Considering Robert Tyner has won the last two editions of the Goffs Land Rover Bumper, it’s rather surprising that his sole representative this year DESIGN MATTERS was put in at 100/1 by several firms initially, and even at the reduced odds it’s hard to resist an interest on the Mastercraftsman gelding.
Admittedly, he has shown very little in two starts over hurdles but they are really of limited relevance when it comes to today’s test, especially as he looked quite green both times.
What they do give him however, is a potentially significant edge in experience over the bulk of today’s opposition.
Gary's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
4.55 PUNCHESTOWN - KILLASHEE HANDICAP HURDLE
1pt win TEN TEN (11-1 bet365, Boylesports, 10-1 Betfred, Uni Bet, 9-1 general)
1pt win GOLDEN SPEAR (12-1 bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes, 11-1 general)
6.05 PUNCHESTOWN - GOFFS LAND ROVER BUMPER
1pt each-way DESIGN MATTERS (66-1 bet365, 50-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Bet Victor, Boylesports, Paddy Power, William Hill, Unibet)
all firms listed above are Best Odds Guaranteed.