17.30 Punchestown: Cyclone ready to take Champion Chase by storm
Hidden Cyclone looks the one they all have to beat as he bids to give County Carlow trainer John “Shark” Hanlon the biggest success of his career.
The gelding has won 10 and been placed seven times in 20 starts, including finishing runner-up in three Grade 1 contests, and comes into the race on the back of two really solid efforts.
In the first of those, the nine-year-old chased home Champion two miler Sire De Grugy in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot.
Although beaten 11 lengths by Gary Moore’s stable star, it was no disgrace and the Hidden Cyclone finished 15 lengths clear of the third home.
The son of Stowaway then went down by just 2 1/4 lengths to Dynaste in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f at the Cheltenham Festival, where he jumped right at several fences but kept on really well for pressure.
The return to a right-handed track is likely to suit judged on the Cheltenham run, and with the drop back to 2m holding no fears Hidden Cyclone has the form in the book to bag this valuable prize.
The main dangers could well be British raiders Ballynagour and Module.
The former is trained by David Pipe and ran out the facile winner of the Byrne Group Plate over 2m 4f at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing a highly creditable third over the same trip in a Grade 1 contest at Aintree.
The eight-year-old is a strong traveller who should not be inconvenienced with the drop back to 2m, and given his connections should not be underestimated.
Module ran a stormer to finish third behind Sire De Grugy in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and commands the utmost repsect on that effort.
However, the Tom George trained seven-year-old was doing all his best work at the finish that day and to me needs further to be seen at his best.
The gelding could well get taken of his feet early doors and left with too much to do, but would be a danger to all if within striking distance rounding the home turn.