Horse Racing: Hot favourite a fantastic punt at Punchestown

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RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bet from Saturday’s racing.

14:25 Sandown | ITV1

The Oaksey Chase over two miles and seven furlongs is a one of the highlights on this season finale at Sandown and sees Menorah attempt to complete a hat-trick of wins in this race. He has been kept fresh for this all season and is the one to beat here.

I’ve tipped and backed Menorah (2/1 Ladbrokes) to win this for the last two years and he’s a horse that owes me nothing. A former Grade 1 winner he’s 12 now and there has to be a slight concern he’s not the horse he was. He clearly goes well fresh and will like the ground but at these prices he’s not bombproof.

Josses Hill (4/1 888) is such a hard horse to predict. He’s run at four Cheltenham Festivals with placed efforts in the Supreme Novices’ and Arkle to his name but he’s never developed in to the horse I feel he could have.

A few small field wins to his name, he seems to find a way to lose races. If he won here I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, but he doesn’t appeal as a betting proposition.

The one I like is the Gary Moore-trained Traffic Fluide (5/2 Bet365). A previous winner at the track he’s proved hard to train and hasn’t stood much racing.

He returned this season after a lay-off and until last time out hadn’t set the world alight. He drops in class here, receives weight all round and promises to improve for the extra distance. He looks the most likely winner to me in this.

15:50 Punchestown | AtTheRaces

The Mares Champion Hurdle over two-and-a-half miles is a great race with mares races fast becoming hugely popular and high-class affairs. As a lot of Irish Grade 1 races are becoming, this is a match between Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins as the battle for the title comes to its conclusion.

Karalee (3/1 888) has won both her Irish starts for Willie Mullins and takes a huge step up in class here. Both her wins have come in great style and she is clearly very good. The fact Ruby Walsh chose her ahead of a Grade 1 winner catches the eye but she is up against it here in my opinion.

Augusta Kate (6/1 Paddy Power) surprisingly beat Let’s Dance last time out and is a very good young mare. This is her third start at the top level during the spring festivals and she may not be as fresh as her rivals.

In a small field my main concern here is she may lack tactical speed and my instincts tell me to avoid her.

Apples Jade (1/1 Stan James) is favourite for this and at around even-money looks a fantastic bet. She won the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham and on all known form is superior to these rivals.

Tactically versatile she will like this ground and won at this meeting last season. I don’t like to tip short price favourites however as far as even-money shots go, I think she is a good one.

16:25 Punchestown | AtTheRaces

The Champion Four Year Old Hurdle looks a fantastic race with some real top-class juveniles lining up. The main protagonists know each other well and there is very little between them. I’m of the opinion the juveniles are a good bunch this season and this is a race to watch.

Mega Fortune (11/4 Ladbrokes) has progressed with each start over hurdles and finished second to Defi Du Seuil in the Triumph Hurdle. He had four of these behind him then and is the one to beat here. He seems to handle all types of ground and has a fantastic attitude and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him.

Bapaume (5/2 Bet365) had Mega Fortune behind him twice but on the last two occasions that form was reversed. There is very little between them and that’s likely to be the case again here. He seems to want softer ground and I expect Mega Fortune to make it 3-2 in their head-to-head battle.

Landofhopeandglory (6/1 SkyBet) was behind both of the two I just mentioned at Cheltenham however I still think he is backable here. The best of these on the flat this track will suit much more than Cheltenham and he has won over course and distance.

The quicker the ground the better for him and I’m prepared to give him one more chance. There is very little between the three and at the prices Landofhopeandglory looks the value option.

Best Bets

14:25 Sandown – Traffic Fluide (5/2 Bet365)

15:50 Punchestown – Apples Jade (1/1 Stan James)

16:25 Punchestown – Landofhopeandglory (6/1 SkyBet)

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About Author

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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