16.20 Punchestown: Western Boy value to foil Faugheen
Faugheen is odds-on to extend his unbeaten record record, but with the drop back to 2m not sure to suit looks worth opposing with Western Boy.
The Pat Fahy trained gelding had some smart bumper form, and scored in good style over 2m on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown.
The five-year-old then put in a cracking effort to be beaten just 3/4 of a length by Vautour in a Grade 2 contest over course and distance, where he made the odds-on jolly pull out all the stops.
Western Boy then ran far better than his final finishing position suggests when seventh of 18 to the same rival in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, travelling strongly throughout and holding every chance two from home before being unable to find any extra up the hill.
The return to a flatter track is sure to suit, and with Davy Russell in the saddle, the son of Atonius Pius looks a major player.
The obvious one he has to beat is the odds-on favourite Faugheen, who is unbeaten in five starts under rules.
Trained by Wille Mullins, the six-year-old was ultra impressive when landing the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, that race was over 2m 5f and all his wins over hurdles have come between distances of 2m 4f and 3m.
The gelding has not run over 2m since landing a bumper on his debut at this track last May, and it looks a strange move by connections to drop him significantly back in trip.
It could well be that Faugheen has the speed and class to cope with it, but he is prone to clout the odd hurdle and that makes him look vulnerable in my book and worth taking on at the odds on offer.
The field also includes British raiders Sgt Reckless from Mick Channon’s yard and the David Pipe trained The Liquidator.
The former ran very well to finish a staying on fourth to Vautour in the Supreme, where he finished ahead of Western Boy, but then ran a bit flat at Aintree when runner-up to Josses Hill.
The Liquidator, who finished 11th in the Surpreme, is not out of it if bouncing back to his best and could prove a lively outsider given that he won a bumper at this meeting last year in good style.
If you disagree with my thoughts and think Faugheen is a banker to extend his unbeaten run, Coral are offering an enhanced price of even money to all bets placed via mobile (Max £20).
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