Punchestown Tips: Our Best Bets For Day 1 At The Festival

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Punchestown Tips: Our Best Bets For Day 1 At The Festival

Punchestown Day 1 Tips:


The 2023 Punchestown Festival has finally arrived and we’re looking forward to the opening day of the meeting. 

You won't get rich backing Energumene to win the feature race on Tuesday, although many punters are looking beyond the favourites and instead hunting down some winners at a big price with online bookmakers.

In this article, we take a look through the Punchestown Day 1 racecard and identify a number of selections which should be able to go well at a nice price. 

15:40 - Howden Insurance Brokers Mares Novice Hurdle

The Model Kingdom needs forgiving a no-show in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham but ground conditions went against her that day and she ought to find the terrain at Punchestown much more suitable.

Crucially, the selection has a terrific record at Punchestown having won twice and finished second once in three visits to the Co Kildare track.

The Noel Meade-trained mare was an impressive winner of the mares’ bumper at this meeting 12 months ago and although she probably hasn’t hit the heights she threatened to over hurdles, she still has some noteworthy form in the book.


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Her second to Impaire Et Passe here in January reads particularly well as she finished over eight lengths in front of Shecouldbeanything, who went on to perform with a huge amount of credit at the festival.

The Model Kingdom likes to come from off the pace so this double-figure sized field scenario should ensure this sets up well and she rates a decent each-way wager.

16:50 - Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle 

The last seven winners of this competitive handicap were sent off at a double-figure price with horse racing betting sites and a case can be made for a whole host of these.

Glan, representing last year’s winning stable, was tempting but he might not get his preferred ground and preference is for One Last Tango who won’t be troubled whatever the conditions and he also pulled a long way clear with a sharp improver - who has won again since - at Fairyhouse in February. 

One Last Tango must now race off a career-high mark as a result but the 7lb claim of Charlie O’Dwyer helps offset that and this strong traveller should get this run to suit.

We know he is full effective at this track having won a handicap going away back in October, so everything looks in place for a decent show from a horse who probably still hasn’t reached his ceiling in this sphere.

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18:35 - Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase

Unusually for a small-field Grade 1 novices chase, we don’t have a short-priced favourite with betting apps here.

Willie Mullins appears to have most angles covered (again) with four of the six runners, but he might still find this prize slips away to the Henry de Bromhead team because Journey With Me looks a prime candidate to thrive over this trip.

Journey With Me, a hugely impressive point winner at Ballindenisk in 2020, has yet to go beyond two and a half miles over fences.

He’s also been yet to tackle higher than Grade 3 company in this sphere, but he ran a huge race in defeat to subsequent Cheltenham Festival scorer Impervious at Punchestown in January.

Connections’ decision to avoid Cheltenham and instead take in a Naas Grade 3, which he won in dominant style, could well prove a shrewd call now because this unexposed chaser comes into this tough assignment fresher than most of his rivals.

With loads more to come over this trip, he looks a good bet to take down the Mullins big guns.

19:10 - Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup

Wish Ye Didnt won back-to-back editions of this prize in 2015/16 and Vital Island (nap) looks well-placed to follow suit despite carrying a bigger weight than he did 12 months ago.

Vital Island has form in much stronger events than this, not least his fifth behind subsequent Cheltenham Festival scorer Delta Work at this track in November, and he showed his class when holding off a well-regarded Willie Mullins runner in this race last year.

The selection comes here at the top of his game once again having won points in February and March, and this has surely been connections’ main target all season. 

Age has been no barrier to success in this race in recent years and this evergreen 11-year-old can show his younger rivals a clean pair of heels once again.

De Nordener looks a lively danger for feared connections, but he was well beaten off in this race last year.

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Gavin Beech

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