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Punchestown Festival 2015 news round-up: Tizzard, Meade and more

Tizzard’s star hurdler Thistlecrack heading to Punchestown
Runaway Aintree Grade 1 winner Thistlecrack was today confirmed to be on course for the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at next week’s Punchestown Festival.

Trained by Colin Tizzard, the gelding won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle by 13 lengths at the Liverpool venue, and connections are hoping that he can finish his campaign on a high in the 3m Grade 1 on Wednesday, April 29th .

“The plan is to bring Thistlecrack over – he missed Cheltenham and then was very impressive at Aintree. He worked nicely this morning and I would imagine he will go over three miles again in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle,” said Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father. “We’ve been patient with him as he’s had a few problems and we’re reaping the rewards.”

The Tizzard team will also be represented in Wednesday’s Grade 1 Bibby Financial Services Punchestown Gold Cup with stable star Cue Card, who was most recently second to Don Cossack in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree.

“Cue Card will go for the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup and the way he travelled and jumped he looked back to his old self for a long way at Aintree,” added Tizzard junior. “He worked nicely this week and he’ll be a fresh horse going into it and it’s nice to see him back racing.”

Meade hopeful Apache can make amends
Trainer Noel Meade is hoping that Apache Stronghold, a faller when travelling well at Fairyhouse on his latest start, can put up a bold show in the Grade 1 Growise Novice Chase on Tuesday, April 28th.

The seven-year-old, winner of the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February, had previously finished runner-up to Vautour in the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

“Apache Stronghold is okay after Fairyhouse and he’s going to run in the Growise Champion Novice Chase – he’s a good horse who has never disgraced himself yet,” said Meade.

“I don’t know if I left him a bit too fresh for Fairyhouse but Paul [Carberry] said he took a pull out of him and went straight into the fence. He’d never done it before and has schooled well since.”

Meade is set to bring his usual strong team to the Punchestown Festival and will run Cheltenham Gold Cup third Road To Riches in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup.

Henderson bids to build on great Pucnhestown record
Nicky Henderson has saddled a winner at seven of the last eight Punchestown Festivals and among those who could bid to add to that record is Top Notch, who finished runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The juvenile is a possible starter in the Grade 1 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on Saturday, May 2nd.

“We have the idea of going for the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle with Top Notch. I would love to run him but if we are going to come we would look for the ground to be on the easy side,” said Henderson. “The same owners [Simon Munir and Isaac Souede] have Buiseness Sivola in the same race with Willie Mullins so we will just have to see. I expect to also be bringing some horses for the bumpers and handicaps over this year.”