17.30 Punchestown: Lyreen Legend can strike Gold
The Punchestown Gold Cup is the highlight of the five-day Festival, and Lyreen Legend looks good value to land the spoils.
Dessie Hughes’ gelding has only had 10 starts over fences, and ran an excellent race to finish sixth to Lord Windermere in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old held every chance when clouting the second last in the extended 3m 2f contest, and then weakened on the run-in to be beaten 6 3/4 lengths.
The son of Saint Des Saints is held by the runner-up On His Own, but there are reasons to believe he could turn the tables.
On His Own had a gruelling battle up the run-in with the eventual winner and third home The Giant Bolster, whereas the selection was not unduly knocked about once it was clear he would not be winning.
Lyreen Legend also looks sure to appreciate the drop back in trip to 3m 1f, as he was going as well as anything two from home in the Gold Cup.
Willie Mullins, who trains On His Own, is also represented by Boston Bob.
Stable jockey Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Boston Bob, who bounced back to form when winning the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree last time out.
The nine-year-old stayed on strongly to beat Rolling Aces by 3 1/4 lengths, but the runner-up has since been beaten out of sight in a Listed race at Sandown and the form has a very shakey look to it.
To my mind it was the weakest renewal of the Melling for many a year, and Boston Bob looks to have it all to do to follow-up in this line-up.
Despite having such a hard race at Cheltenham, I prefer the chances of his stable companion On His Own.
First Lieutenant finished third to Sir Des Champs in this contest 12 months ago, and has major claims on the pick of his form on ground which will suit.
The Mouse Morris trained nine-year-old has run some solid races this season to be placed the Lexus and Hennessy Gold Cup, both Grade 1 races run at Leopardstown, but was made to look one-paced when fourth of six to Silvianaco Conti in the Betfred Silver Bowl at Aintree when last seen in action.
However, the gelding was still only beaten just under four lengths by Paul Nicholls’ King George winner and the form looks pretty strong in the context of this contest.