Punchestown Festival: Charbel value in Champion Novice Hurdle
David Metcalf | April 25, 2016
Charbel the Champion Novice Hurdle choice
Charbel looks decent value to turn over the red-hot favourite Yorkhill and land the spoils in the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown (16.20).
The gelding was a useful bumper performer when trained in Ireland who has shown progressive form in winning two of his five starts over hurdles since joining Kim Bailey.
In the last of those, Charbel made all and cruised clear to win easing down by 11 lengths from Brainpower at Mussleburgh.
It was a most taking performance, and there is no reason why the five-year-old should not confirm the form with the runner-up.
Cracking run in Supreme
Charbel has since gone on to post a career-best effort when a fine 12 3/4 length fifth of 14 to Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The son of Iffraaj attempted to make all and only get headed between the final two flights before weakening late on.
It was a cracking effort in what was a very strong renewal of the race, and the third home Buveur D’air has since come out and won at Aintree to give the form a boost.
Charbel also finished in front of Petit Mouchoir who re-opposes on identical terms, and connections wisely decided to bypass Aintree with to keep him fresh for this contest.
Yorkhill a class act
Yorhill comes into the race on the back of a hat-trick of successes in Grade 1 company and is undoubtedly a class act.
Having landed the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, the Willie Mullins trained six-year-old took the scalp of the highly-regarded Yanworth in the Neptune Investement Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in terrific style.
After travelling strongly throughout in mid-division, Yorkhill scythed through the field to be on the heels of the leaders turning for him before showing a good turn of foot to take up the running at the last.
The son of Presenting then kept on strongly to fend off Yanworth by 1 1/2 lengths, with the pair pulling seven lengths clear of the third home.
It was a performance which oozed class, and the gelding has since gone on to follow-up with a 2 1/12 length success in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
Concerns race may come too soon
Yorkhill pulled like a train and was made to work very hard before asserting near the finish, and Mullins said after the race that he believed that it may have come too soon after Cheltenham.
I felt that would be the last outing for Yorkhill this season and am somewhat surprised that he is being turned out again so soon after those exertions.
For that reason I think that he could be vulnerable, and Charbel looks the one to capitalise if Yorkhill gets up to similar antics and does find the race one too many.
Coral’s top tip: Charbel has been kept fresh for the race and looks decent value to inflict a first hurdles’ defeat on classy Yorkhill.