HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Punchestown Day 3 Preview: Foot not just padding out the numbers
We preview the Grade 1 Champion Stayers' Hurdle on day three of the 2017 Punchestown Festival and recommend a 16/1 bet.
The best place to start in Thursday's Champion Stayers' Hurdle at Punchestown is with Cheltenham's Stayers’ Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon, who was recording his eighth Grade 1 success last month at Prestbury Park. That was just his second run over three miles, the other coming in the Iroquois Hurdle in America (below form in third), and he could well have more to offer at this trip. Nichols Canyon is likely to seek the lucrative bonus for winning both the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and next month’s Iroquois Hurdle in Nashville, but he will prove a tough nut to crack here before that.
Second and third behind Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham were Lil Rockerfeller and Unowhatimeanharry. The former ran his best race to date and will probably give his running again given his solid profile - he always seems to be underestimated, but really shoudn't be. Unowhatimeanharry took his unbeaten record for Harry Fry to eight when winning the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, adding to wins in the Long Distance at Newbury and the Long Walk at Ascot (Lil Rockerfeller four and a half lengths back in second). Though he wasn’t disgraced in the Stayers’ Hurdle, Unowhatimeanharry wasn’t at his very best, but he’ll have major claims of reversing the form if returning to his peak, though the ground must again be of some concern (trainer cited it as a potential reason for his below-par effort at Cheltenham).
Another from the Stayers’ Hurdle is Snow Falcon, who wasn’t disgraced back in fifth at Cheltenham and built on that effort with a good third to Yanworth in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree next time. A horse who arrives here much fresher is last year’s winner One Track Mind, who has only been seen twice this season, both over fences. He made a serious early error on his chasing debut at Newbury, but had no such excuses for his flop at Catterick 18 days after, looking laboured from an early stage. It is no surprise to see him back over hurdles now, but he does have something to prove given the form he was in when we last saw him.