TODAY: 20 UP AND MORE TO COME: Daqman, who is leading Pricewise 20-4 in their value challenge, clashes with the trade-paper tipster in the 4.20 and 6.05 at Punchestown today. Daqman naps in the second of those two races.

TOMORROW: THE 2,000 GUINEAS: The Flat has been overshadowed by the pulling power of Punchestown but tomorrow (2,000 Guineas) and Sunday (1,000 Guineas) sees the start of the Classic season in England.


3.40 Punchestown Older hunter-chasers have given way to the youngsters every time in the decade. I checked the last six seasons and found that those of a double-figure age had flopped to 17 defeats.

Rohan’s Pride goes for back-to-back success but has to give weight all round, including 10lb to last year’s runner-up at levels, Shin A Vee.

Johnies Star, the 2013 winner, was in rear last year and has since moved from Peter Maher’s yard, which fields last year’s third, Mtada Supreme.

I hope that Maher’s Ballyboker Bridge is all right this morning after his fall when looking sure of a place (my nap) in the La Touche Cup yesterday. He’s been snubbed by the racereaders which gives us another chance of a price about him in banks races.

Maher also placed 14-1 Enniskillen for me in the Ladies Perpetual Cup on the opening day and deserves a change of luck. Mtada Supreme is 17lb better with Rohans Pride for just over six lengths on last year’s race, albeit now aged 10.

4.20 Punchestown Jessica Harrington always has a youngster ready for this, and her form figures for the last decade – 100011 – show a 50% strike rate. Willie Mullins is 1113F0P since 2008.

Jessica’s Mr Fifty One gave 17lb to Wednesday’s Guinness Chase winner, Ballyadam Approach, when they met at Fairyhouse earlier last month and was little more than three lengths down at the line.

Mr Fifty One (8.2 on BETDAQ early mouse) has been placed at Punchestown twice already, once on a sound surface, once third to Vautour.

In back-to-back wins at Punchestown earlier in the season, Shanahan’s Turn, poised to bounce back today after a break, beat Tuesday ‘s Champion Novice runner-up, Wounded Warrior, a result classy enough to make the the 12.5 offers this morning look big.

4.55 Punchestown Jessica Harrington saddles last year’s winner, Burn And Turn, who then ran up to Road To Riches in the Galway Plate.

Burn And Turn was further behind Vroum Vroum Mag at Fairyhouse than Perfect promise had been at Limerick earlier, yet has to conceded more than a stone to that one here. Perfect Promise will love the ground.

Lily Waugh is consistent, and Elsie will appreciate the better ground, while Dancing Susie is very well in with Burn And Turn if she can be persuaded to run the same race twice.

5.30 Punchestown (Champion Hurdle) There’s been no way we’ve been able to buy money with big bankers on the likes of Un De Sceaux and now Faugheen – far too short – and the one hot-pot I opposed (Don Poli) I didn’t lay.

6.05 Punchestown (Champion Novice Hurdle) I can get a better banker here in Nichols Canyon. But, you say, how can you nap the favourite when his trainer, Willie Mullins, runs four of the seven runners?

Well, he describes them in the trade paper as ‘more to come’ (Nichols Canyon), ‘potential to improve’ (Sempre Medici), ‘has it all to do’ (Outlander) and ‘hope more than confidence’ (McKinley).

Sempre Medici’s form was let down by Identitiy Thief on Wednesday and he was 63 lengths behind Nichols Canyon in February.

The verdict, then, has to be that we can nap Nichols Canyon. I’m hoping Mouse Morris won’t spoil it for me with Alpha Des Obeaux, who ran up to Douvan on this course in January but looks a chaser for next season.

DAQMAN’S BETS (each staked to win 20 points, except the banker)
BET 6pts win MTADA SUPREME (3.40 Punchestown)
BET 2.7pts win MR FIFTYONE and 1.7pts win SHANAHAN’S TURN (4.20 Punchestown)
BET 3.7pts win PERFECT PROMISE (4.55 Punchestown)
BANKER: BET 20pts win (nap) NICHOLS CANYON (6.05 Punchestown)

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