Top Jumping Names Head to Punchestown Festival – Entries Released

Unowhatimeanharry (Noel Fehily) wins the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle from Nichols Canyon. Punchestown Festival. Photo:Patrick McCann 27.04.2017

Unowhatimeanharry (Noel Fehily) wins the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle from Nichols Canyon. Punchestown Festival. Photo:Patrick McCann 27.04.2017

Cheltenham feature race winners Samcro, Altior and Balko Des Flos among superb entries for opening two days


Fabulous Grade 1 entries are revealed today for the opening two days of Ireland’s National Hunt showpiece, the 2018 Punchestown Festival.


Staged over five days from Tuesday, April 24 to Saturday, April 28, this year’s Festival boasts massive prize money of €3.045 million.


Irish raiders stole the show at last month’s Cheltenham Festival and the country’s star jumpers are all set to reappear at Punchestown, but will to be taken on by a strong challenge from Britain.


Tuesday’s feature event is the €275,000 Grade 1 BOYLESPORTS CHAMPION CHASE and a fabulous renewal is in prospect with the 1-2-3 from Cheltenham’s Queen Mother Champion Chase all in the line-up.


Nicky Henderson, who memorably sent over Sprinter Sacre to win the 2013 race, has entered the outstanding Altior, seven-length winner at Cheltenham. The Queen Mother Champion Chase second and third, Min and God’s Own, are also entered at Punchestown.


Min’s trainer Willie Mullins has a strong hand thanks to the likes of the eight-times Grade 1 winner Douvan, a faller at Cheltenham, Great Field, who returned from a lay-off to win impressively last month, and the great Un De Sceaux, who could step back in trip after an 18-length win over 2m 4f at Fairyhouse on Monday.




Punchestown is also about the future talent and one of the great clashes of the season could come early on Tuesday’s card in the Grade 1 THE HERALD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE.


The brilliant mare Laurina, unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins, could take on her male counterparts in the extended two-mile contest, having cruised home in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse on Sunday.


All eyes at the Punchestown Festival are likely to be on the trainers’ championship tussle between Mullins and Gordon Elliott, bidding for a first title after narrowly losing out last year.


The Elliott-trained Samcro, a superb winner of the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, promises to provide formidable opposition to Laurina in The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.


Elliott has strong supporting entries, including Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third Mengli Khan and Qatar Racing’s Pallasator, a Flat Group 2 winner who scored in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse on Sunday.


Mullins’ other entries include Getabird, a 12-length Grade 2 winner at Fairyhouse on Monday. Colin Tizzard’s three entries include the lightly-raced and progressiveSlate House.


Also on Tuesday’s card is the Grade 1 GROWISE CHAMPION NOVICE CHASE which unusually features four of this year’s Cheltenham Festival winners.


The quartet are Coo Star Sivola (Ultima Handicap Chase), Rathvinden (National Hunt Chase), Shattered Love (JLT Novices’ Chase) and The Storyteller (Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate).


Other leading challengers include Al Boum Photo, winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday and Grade 1 RSA Novices’ Chase runner-up Monalee.


Ruby Walsh targets Punchestown Festival return from injury.

Ruby Walsh targets Punchestown Festival return from injury.





The €275,000 Grade 1 CORAL PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP on Wednesday, April 25, promises to be a race to savour.


Fresh from a brilliant Grade 1 Ryanair Chase success at the Cheltenham Festival, the Henry de Bromhead-trained Balko Des Flos could step up in trip for this extended three-mile event.


“We are thinking of the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup, although he’ll also be entered at Aintree in the two and a half mile race. He seems in good form and is well,”said de Bromhead.


“I don’t think a step up in trip at Punchestown is an issue as he ran very well at Leopardstown over three miles and he won a Galway Plate over two miles six and a half furlongs. He’s got Grade 1 form over three miles so we’ll see and just some nice jumping ground would be ideal.


“I was hoping for a good run at Cheltenham as our lad ran great at Christmas although Un De Sceaux looked like he was going to be hard to beat.”


Last year an amazing 58% of the British-trained runners won or were placed at the Punchestown Festival, taking home €645,500 in prize money. Potential CoralPunchestown Gold Cup challengers based across the Irish Sea include the Brian Ellison-trained Definitly Red, winner of the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January.


“I’ve entered him in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup and it depends on the ground at Aintree as to where we go,” said North Yorkshire-based Ellison, who has always held the grey – who finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – in the very highest regard.


“I haven’t over-trained him since Cheltenham, obviously. He had a hard enough race in the Gold Cup where the ground was bottomless and we won’t know its effects until he runs. He didn’t enjoy it as the ground was very deep and very heavy.


“But he seems alright and he’ll school this week. I’ve always said that he prefers good, easy ground as he’s such a beautiful mover.


“I know that he won on heavy ground at Aintree, but it was loose and heavy and easy to get through. He’s definitely a very good horse and he’s class.”


Other entries from Britain include the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Minella RoccoAmerican from Harry Fry’s stable and Sizing Granite, winner of the Grade A Guinness Handicap Chase at Punchestown last year for Colin Tizzard.


Irish Grand National winner General Principle may bid for another valuable prize while his stablemate, the mare Shattered Love, is an intriguing entry having won the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Meanwhile, the exciting Disko – not seen since winning a Grade 2 event at Down Royal in November – could bid to round off his season on a high.


The home team also includes Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf, Cheltenham Gold Cup third Anibale FlyOur Duke, winner of the Red Mills Chase in February and Road To Respect, a Grade 1 chase winner at Leopardstown over Christmas.


There are 38 entries for the Grade 1 IRISH DAILY MIRROR NOVICE HURDLE on Wednesday, April 25, run over three miles, including the Colin Tizzard-trainedKilbricken Storm, winner of the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. The Nicky Henderson-trained OK Corral, who finished runner-up at Cheltenham adds further strength to the British raiding party.


Top performers entered by Gordon Elliott include Pallasator, Samcro, and two of his other Cheltenham Festival winners, Blow By Blow (Cheltenham’s Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle) and Delta Works (Pertemps Final).


Willie Mullins has an equally strong entry including Next Destination, a Grade 1 winner at Naas in January.


Entries for the final three days of the 2018 Punchestown Festival are announced tomorrow, Friday, April 6.




The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1),

€100,000, 2m, 5yo+


Beyond The Law (Mouse Morris)

Cartwright (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

Deal D’estruval (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Draconien (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Duc Des Genievres (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Getabird (Willie Mullins)

Hardline (Gordon Elliott)

Impact Factor (Jessica Harrington)

Laurina (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Mengli Khan (Gordon Elliott)

Mind’s Eye (Henry de Bromhead)

Nessun Dorma (Willie Mullins)

Pallasator (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

Paloma Blue (Henry de Bromhead)

Roaring Bull (Gordon Elliott)

Samcro (Gordon Elliott)

Sayar (Willie Mullins)

Shady Operator (Joseph O’Brien)

Sharjah (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Slate House (Colin Tizzard GB)

Storm Home (Colin Tizzard GB)

Trainwreck (Henry de Bromhead)

Twobeelucky (GB) (Henry de Bromhead)

Uradel (GER) (Willie Mullins)

Vengeful (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Vision Des Flos (FR) (Colin Tizzard GB)

Whiskey Sour (Willie Mullins)

Whisperinthebreeze (GB) (Jessica Harrington)



BoyleSports Champion Chase (Grade 1) €275,000, 2m, 5yo+


A Toi Phil (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Altior (Nicky Henderson GB)

American Tom (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Ballycasey (Willie Mullins)

Clarcam (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Doctor Phoenix (Gordon Elliott)

Douvan (FR) (Willie Mullins)

God’s Own (Tom George GB)

Great Field (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Min (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Ordinary World (Henry de Bromhead)

Simply Ned (Nicky Richards GB)

Special Tiara (GB) (Henry de Bromhead)

Speredek (FR) (Nigel Hawke GB)

Tell Us More (Gordon Elliott)

The Game Changer (Gordon Elliott)

Un De Sceaux (FR) (Willie Mullins)



Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) €100,000, 3m 120yds, 5yo+


A Sizing Network (FR) (Jessica Harrington)

Acting Lass (Harry Fry GB)

Al Boum Photo (FR) (Willie Mullins)

C’est Jersey (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Coo Star Sivola (FR) (Nick Williams GB)

Dinaria Des Obeaux (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Dounikos (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard GB)

Fagan (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

Finian’s Oscar (Colin Tizzard GB)

Invitation Only (Willie Mullins)

Jury Duty (Gordon Elliott)

Kemboy (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Koshari (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Mia’s Storm (Alan King GB)

Monalee (Henry de Bromhead)

Monbeg Notorious (Gordon Elliott)

Moulin A Vent (GB) (Noel Meade)

Pylonthepressure (Willie Mullins)

Rathvinden (Willie Mullins)

Shattered Love (Gordon Elliott)

Snow Falcon (Noel Meade)

Some Neck (FR) (Willie Mullins)

The Storyteller (Gordon Elliott)

Tombstone (Gordon Elliott)

Tycoon Prince (Gordon Elliott)

Up For Review (Willie Mullins)

Youcantcallherthat (Denis Hogan)





Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) €100,000, 3m , 4yo+


Antey (GER) (Willie Mullins)

Ballyward (Willie Mullins)

Best Behavior (Oliver McKiernan)

Blow By Blow (Gordon Elliott)

Brahma Bull (Willie Mullins)

Burren Life (Gordon Elliott)

Burrows Saint (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Carter McKay (GB) (Willie Mullins)

Cartwright (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

Deal D’estruval (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Debuchet (FR) (Mags Mullins)

Delta Work (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Discorama (FR) (Paul Nolan)

Dortmund Park (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Duc Des Genievres (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Epicuris (GB) (Willie Mullins)

Flawless Escape (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

General Consensus (GB) (Sam Drinkwater GB)

Gun Digger (Gordon Elliott)

Jetz (Jessica Harrington)

Kilbricken Storm (Colin Tizzard GB)

Lackaneen Leader (Gordon Elliott)

Minella Beau (Willie Mullins)

Minella Fair (Noel Meade)

Monkshood (Gordon Elliott)

Moonshine Bay (Jessica Harrington)

Moyross (GB) (Noel Meade)

Next Destination (Willie Mullins)

Ok Corral (Nicky Henderson GB)

Pallasator (GB) (Gordon Elliott)

Pleasant Company (Willie Mullins)

Poli Roi (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Real Steel (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Redhotfillypeppers (Willie Mullins)

Samcro (Gordon Elliott)

Scarpeta (FR) (Willie Mullins)

The Conditional (Martin Hassett)

Tower Bridge (Joseph O’Brien)



Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) €275,000, 3m 120yds, 5yo+


A Toi Phil (FR) (Gordon Elliott)

Alpha Des Obeaux (FR) (Mouse Morris)

American (FR) (Harry Fry GB)

Anibale Fly (FR) (Tony Martin)

Arctic Skipper (Vincent Halley)

Balko Des Flos (FR) (Henry de Bromhead)

Bellshill (Willie Mullins)

Carlingford Lough (John Kiely)

Definitly Red (Brian Ellison GB)

Disko (FR) (Noel Meade)

Djakadam (FR) (Willie Mullins)

Edwulf (GB) (Joseph O’Brien)

General Principle (Gordon Elliott)

Killultagh Vic (Willie Mullins)

Lord Scoundrel (Gordon Elliott)

Minella Rocco (Jonjo O’Neill GB)

Our Duke (Jessica Harrington)

Outlander (Gordon Elliott)

Pairofbrowneyes (Willie Mullins)

Road To Respect (Noel Meade)

Sandymount Duke (Jessica Harrington)

Shattered Love (Gordon Elliott)

Sizing Granite (Colin Tizzard GB)

Sub Lieutenant (Henry de Bromhead)

Sumos Novios (Liam Burke)

Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott)

Total Recall (Willie Mullins)

Valseur Lido (FR) (Henry de Bromhead)

Yorkhill (Willie Mullins)

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