Updated 9.28 - all selections online.
Tony Keenan’s next tipping column will be on Saturday, January 19th.
A Plus Tard looked like he could step up to a higher grade when winning at Naas last time, that form solid with the four to chase him home rated 146, 139, 136 and 145 over hurdles, respectively. Henry De Bromhead’s five-year-old may not have been ideally suited by initially making his challenge on the far rail either, the stands side often favoured on the chase track, and he is the one to beat in the Grade 2 Total Event Rental Novice Chase (1:15 Punchestown) getting upwards of 7lb from his rivals.
Still, odds little bigger than even money are worth passing over and a better way into the race may be the without market. Jetz, though likely to be suited by this better ground, has plenty to prove after his Limerick disappointment and isn’t the easiest ride, often refusing to settle. Winter Escape is a horse of significant potential and was impressive last time but there are negatives now; he has a 7lb penalty, is off a break and may prefer slower ground.
GUN DIGGER was third to A Plus Tard when the pair met on chase debut, a bit less than three lengths in arrears that day, and has been almost as upwardly mobile as the favourite since, finishing second to Chris’s Dream next time before winning by 18 lengths at Leopardstown over Christmas. That margin doesn’t tell the whole story as he was left clear when both Borderline Chatho and Bacardys fell at the last.
It could be that his apparent fortune there has been overplayed though. At the very least he looked to have Borderline Chatho covered as they jumped the last and the time was excellent for the grade. While he may ultimately prove better over three miles, his good jumping should keep him keep him competitive here and I made him the biggest danger to the favourite, something that isn’t reflected in the market.
The rest of the card is pretty unappealing betting-wise. The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2:50) seems unlikely to throw up another Getabird or Min, much less a Vautour or Douvan, but Buildmeupbuttercup looks the right favourite.
She showed lots of pace last time at Navan, settling the race quickly down the hill before tying up in the finish, and this inside track should suit her better than more staying types like Felix Desjy, Harrie and Swordsman.
Perhaps the more relevant Supreme Novices’ Hurdle clues will come in the Sportinglife.com Maiden Hurdle at 3:20 where Vision D’honneur could boost the form of Christmas winner Klassical Dream though that one’s stablemate and Grade 1-entered Elixir D’Ainay is a fascinating recruit to hurdling.
Tony's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1.15 PUNCHESTOWN - 'betting without A Plus Tard'
1pt win GUN DIGGER (4-1 William Hill, 7-2 Bet Victor, bet365, 100-30 Paddy Power)