Boum Photo, the horse that finally
gave Willie Mullins his first Cheltenham Gold Cup, will face extremely tough
opposition if he is to join an elite list of horses to have won the Cheltenham
and Punchestown Gold Cup double.
Entries for the Grade 1 races on the opening two days of the Punchestown
Festival were revealed today for the Irish National Hunt Festival which runs
from April 30th– May 4thand is due to welcome the three
highest rated chasers in Ireland, Al
Boum Photo, Kemboy
across the opening two days.
Al Boum Photo is now officially Ireland’s highest rated chaser and he heads the
potential runners for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup where he is likely to meet
stable companion and recent Aintree winner Kemboy.
Willie Mullins reports both of his big race winners to be in rude health
following their high profile victories but the feature race on day two of the
Punchestown Festival is also set to attract the Henry de Bromhead-trained
Monalee and possible interest from England with Aso, Definitily Red and Sizing Granite
all earning entries.
Willie Mullins said:
“Punchestown is always a very important meeting for us and all being well Al
Boum Photo and Kemboy will pitch up there for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup
and I hope to have other runners in that race also.
“Al Boum Photo is in great shape after Cheltenham and this is certainly his
prime target now. We were very pleased with Kemboy at Aintree last week and he
looks fit and well since he came back from there so we’ll take our chance at
Punchestown. We have also entered Bellshill, Footpad, Killultagh Vic,
Pairofbrowneyes, Pleasant Company and Yorkhill and I would certainly imagine a
few more of them will run as there aren’t too many more opportunities for them
for the remainder of the season.”
The Henry de
finished third in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham but will return to his
optimum trip of three miles for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup where de
Bromhead is hoping he can give a good account of himself.
“Monalee came home sore from Cheltenham, he is in good form now, but I just
don’t think he ran his race there,” de Bromhead said.
“I think his best runs have been over three miles and he has got some very good
form in the book. Monalee gave Anibale Fly 7lbs at Gowran Park and finished in
front of Al Boum Photo a couple of times and it’s definitely exciting to be
going back for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup with him. We are very much
looking forward to it.”
Last year’s BoyleSports Champion Chase winner Un De Sceaux is in line to return for
the €300,000 feature race on the opening evening where his stablemate Douvan
might well make his seasonal debut.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins holds a strong hand in the BoyleSports Champion
Chase with the JLT Chase hero Min,
and the returning Great
Field also engaged in the two-mile championship race.
“Douvan started his fast work this week and then we’ll see how he progresses
between now and Punchestown but it would be nice if we could get him back
there. Great Field is back and seems to be in good form in himself so if we can
get him to Punchestown we’ll be doing our best to do that,” Mullins said.
“Min should be fine after Aintree. That was a very pleasing performance from
him last week. Footpad has disappointed us this season and we will monitor him
as things just haven’t gone right for him. We’ll keep an eye on his progress
but we are happy to let them all take their chance at Punchestown if we can.”
The BoyleSports Champion Chase has proved a popular race for British trainers
and the 2016 winner God’s
Own is one of two entries for Tom George who has also included Bun Doran. Hell’s Kitchen,
who was fourth to Altior in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, is Harry Fry’s
representative in a list of 15 initial entries.
The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle is the opening Grade 1 race of the week at
Punchestown and is to be the next port of call for Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Dream who is likely to meet Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten hurdler Champagne Platinum
in what is sure to be a mouth-watering clash on day one.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Defi
Du Seuil is one of three Cheltenham Festival winners among the
entries for the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase with A Plus Tard and Any Second Now
also holding an option to run in this race. Delta Work, Getabird and Winter Escape are
other notable entries.
“Defi Du Seuil is grand and has a couple of options in Ireland,” Hobbs stated.
“We’ve entered him in Punchestown and he is also in on Easter Sunday. He’s in
good form and it was very much a help to see Colin’s (Tizzard) horse,
Lostintranslation, winning at Aintree last week. I’m happy with him at the
The opening Grade 1 on day two of the Punchestown Festival is the Irish Daily
Mirror Novice Hurdle in which the Henry de Bromhead-trained Albert Bartlett
Novice Hurdle winner Minella
Indo tops the field.
A total of 46 entries were received for the €100,000 three-mile hurdle which
includes the first three horses home from the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle
where Minella Indo
beat Commander Of
Fleet and Allaho,
while British representation comes in the shape of Ask Ben, Emitom and Geordie B.
“Minella Indo has been great since Cheltenham,” de Bromhead said. “Our view
going to Cheltenham was that wherever Allaho would finish that we wouldn’t be
too far away. We felt our horse would improve from Clonmel but to a degree it
was still a pleasant surprise. If he could go to Punchestown and do something
similar it would be amazing.”
The 2019 Punchestown Festival kicks off on Tuesday 30th April
and runs to Saturday 4th May with a record prize fund of
€3,222,500 on offer. Full event information and tickets available on www.punchestown.com