Gigginstown giants poised for Punchestown
Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud will bid to round off the Irish season on a high at next week’s Punchestown Festival with leading contenders in most of the big races.
The five-day Festival runs from Tuesday, April 28th through to Saturday, May 2nd.
Gigginstown’s colours have prevailed in the Bibby Financial Serives Punchestown Gold Cup twice before with War Of Attrition (2006) and Sir Des Champs (2013) and the owners look to have a bright chance of making it win number three this year.
Eddie O’Leary, racing manager to his brother, has confirmed that Cheltenham Gold Cup third Road To Riches is likely to be joined in the Grade 1 event next Wednesday, April 29, by Don Cossack, an easy winner of the Melling Chase at Aintree.
“All being well, the plan is the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup for Road To Riches. He had a hard race at Cheltenham but he’s fine again now and is ready to go,” said O’Leary.
“There’s every chance that Don Cossack could go for the Gold Cup as well. He’s come out of Aintree very well. It’s the case with both him and Road To Riches that if they tell us they want to run then they will.”
The outstanding novice Don Poli, unbeaten in three starts over fences this season, is set to have his first start since winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in the Growise Champion Novice Chase on Tuesday, April 28th. Trainer Willie Mullins could also saddle Vautour, winner of Cheltenham’s JLT Chase for owner Susannah Ricci.
“Don Poli is entered in the Bibby Financial Services Punchestown Gold Cup but he’s more than likely to go for the novice race,” said O’Leary. “Hopefully he’s a good horse but the novice is where we’ll go. If Vautour runs, he runs, but we’ll just worry about our own horse.”
Gigginstown has huge strength in depth among its novice hurdlers, and is likely to be particularly well-represented in the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on Wednesday, April 29th.
The Mouse Morris-trained Alpha Des Obeaux, who was travelling well when falling in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, is a probable starter as is No More Heroes, who was hampered when third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, and Sub Lieutenant, who finished fourth in Aintree’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Sandra Hughes.
Albert Bartlett runner-up Milsean, trained by Willie Mullins, is also engaged. Lieutenant Colonel, a dual Grade 1 winner this season, was well-beaten in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham but O’Leary is hoping he will return to form in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday, April 30th.
O’Leary said: “We put cheekpieces on Lieutenant Colonel at Cheltenham and he was too free with those. We made a mistake doing that and he obviously won’t wear them at Punchestown. Dedigout is also entered but he would only go there if the going was heavier than soft, he wouldn’t go otherwise.”