With four rides from Punchestown on Friday, Bryan takes an early look at day four of the festival.
Balko Des Flos
He was still bang there and going okay when falling 4 out in the JLT, so we will never know how that would have played out. But I think he is on a very fair mark on 143 judged on his Grade 1 third to Disko and Our Duke at Leopardstown in February – that form could hardly have worked out better – and 2m5f on decent ground is fine for him. I can see him going well in what is obviously a wide-open handicap.
This is obviously a race with a lot of depth to it – far more than usual – and you can make a case for quite a few. Willie isn’t messing around and runs five, including Arctic Fire and last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag, and then you have the Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours and the enigma that is Labaik. But I hope I have winning chances on Petit Mouchoir. He was clearly very impressive when winning his Grade 1s at Leopardstown earlier in the season and, although he finished a good third at Cheltenham, perhaps that track doesn’t show him at his absolute best. But, saying that, he probably ran to form there, and I think I may have finished second had we jumped the second-last better. We know the horse loves it around here, the ground will be fine, and I have every reason to go into the race hopeful, for all that it is very competitive. There is plenty of pace in here, too, so we have the option of taking a lead.
Once again, this looks a very competitive and open Grade 1 and you wouldn’t be in a rush to rule out any of them. The home team look very strong but Finian’s Oscar looked very good at Aintree, and Colin Tizzard, the Potts and Robbie can do no wrong at the moment. He could be the one we all have to beat. We were scratching our heads at Death Duty’s run at Cheltenham. I suppose it could have been the trip but that just wasn’t his true running. If he comes back to the form of his Grade 1 win at Naas in January, or his Navan victory, then he clearly has a big chance. Hopefully the return to 2m4f will suit, and I don’t think the ground will be an issue. We have freshened him up since Cheltenham, and we still hold him in very high regard.
Avenir D’Une Vie
This is another tight race where very little separates most of the field. My horse needs to bounce back from a pretty modest run at Fairyhouse at the start of the month but he really impressed me when winning on his hurdling debut in November, and he was also a very good bumper horse. If that run last time, after a long break, has brought him on – and maybe he needed it more than we thought there – then I wouldn’t rule out a much better performance on this better ground as this is a horse I rate.
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