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Punchestown Festival preview: Three.ie Handicap Chase (16.15)

Jacksonslady looks on a handy mark in the Three.ie handicap chase at Punchestown today (16.15), and decent each-way value in a fiercely competitive and wide-open 2m contest.

The Philip Dempsey trained mare is a dual winner at the track and comes into the race on the back of an easy success at Naas.

After being held-up off the pace in the four-runner mares’ conditions contest, the 10-year-old made smooth progress to get on terms two from home before forging clear to beat is Herself About by 12 lengths off an official rating of 135.

Jacksonslady is now able to race back in this handicap off an unchanged mark, and looks to have been shrewdly placed and laid out for this by Dempsey.

The daughter of Jackson’s Drift also has plenty of solid form in big field handicaps, including when third to 22 Carlingford Lough in the 2013 running of the Galway Plate off 2lb higher, and handles cut in the ground.

Another plus is that Jacksonslady has the services of the highly talented Mark Walsh in the saddle, and in a race which should be run to suit everything looks in place for a big run.

The market is headed by Ned Butline, who like Jacksonslady carries the famous gold and green colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus.

This Noel Meade trained gelding is a talented but quirky sort, who has been heavily backed in his last two starts but failed to deliver.

In the first of those, Ned Buntline was sent off the 4/1 joint-favourite to provide jockey AP McCoy with victory on his final ever ride at the Cheltenham Festival in the Grand Annual Chase.

The seven-year-old was travelling strongly and creeping into contention when badly hampered four from home and McCoy did well to stay in the saddle.

It left Ned Buntline with a mammoth task to make up the lost ground, but to his credit he did so and held every chance in second approaching the last until being unable to find any extra on the run-in to finish a a 6 1/2 length fourth of 20 to Next Sensation.

The son of Refuse To Bend was then making headway from off the pace and seemingly going well when falling four from home in the Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree last time out, and is now able to race off 2lb lower.

That gives Ned Buntline a big chance from a handicapping perspective, but he needs everything to drop right an is not one to put maximum faith in if it comes down to a battle.