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Punchestown Festival day five

Frank Monkhouse | 29 April 2017

Standout runners on Saturday in Ireland

Saturday sees the fifth day of what has been an enjoyable Punchestown Festival, but there’s still lots for horse racing backers to get excited about, with an eight-race card going from 2.35pm.

Top of the bill is the Mares Champion Hurdle, and you can have your say on the star of that one – and all of Saturday’s racing from Punchestown and beyond – right here at Coral. The winners are just a click away. Make your opinions count.

Apple's Jade is also entered in the race for Gigginstown, but this may be one horse to swerve according to Fighting Fifth Hurdle ante post tips.

Apples Jade popular with punters

Starting with what is sizing up to be a fascinating Mares Champion Hurdle. Due to post at 3.50pm, we see a tightly-packed seven-runner field contest, and a strong case could be made for anything here. Cheltenham hero Apple’s Jade is expected to be well supported in the market, and that’s the one for us.

Gordon Elliott’s hugely talented rep was last seen taking the grade one Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, seeing off Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in a cracking finish. I must say I didn’t fancy her chances at all that day, but was more than happy to be proven wrong, as you had to love the way she went and won the race.

Plenty to love about Elliott’s pride

Always near the front, she looked done for pace by the big-two at the business end of the race, but showed real fight to battle back into the contest, pushed out by Bryan Cooper to get her head in front, edging out VVM by 1 ½ lengths, with Limini not far behind. A deserved winner, off a handy 7/2 SP.

We won’t get anything like that price again on Saturday, but we’re expecting the final result to be much the same. Apple’s Jade has finished no higher than second in any of her eight career starts, and with two wins already in the bag over rival Vroum Vroum Mag, she can never be written off. I expect her to feature in a big share of Saturday accumulators.

Top trainers such as Willie Mullins have always been happy to run their horses at Kempton.

Revenge on the cards for Bapaume

Next on the schedule and we have the hugely competitive grade one Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, run over two miles. Willie Mullins sends out Bapaume, who placed third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham recently, ending behind winning favourite Defi Du Seuil and Mega Fortune, the latter goes in competition again here.

Worse off than the selection that day was Landofhopeandglory, and we’re taking him to hold that form, while gaining revenge over Mega Fortune, who finished just a short-head in front. Bapaume has been given an easier time of it this season than his rivals, and that freshness should pay-off on a tough afternoon.

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