The jumps season is beginning to heat up as the rain makes the unusually good ground that bit safer. Limerick played host to the Munster National last weekend, which marked one of the first proper opportunities for staying chasers and it went the way of Spider Web. Tom Mullins charge will do well to match the achievements of last season winner Total Recall but he does look like a horse worth following considering how he stayed inside the final furlong.
Punchestown is undoubtedly the home of jumps racing in Ireland and the Kildare track is the location for the Irish Daily Star Chase which is one of the season's first proper graded races for Gold Cup hopefuls. A quick look at some of the past winners shows what it takes to win the race with War Of Attrition (2005, 2006 & 2008), Don Cossack (2014 & 2015) and Road To Respect (2017) all previous winners.
Noel Meade is looking for back to back success with Road To Respect in the race. The son of Gamut went on to win the Group 1 Christmas Chase at Leopardstown last season before finishing a very creditable fourth in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham festival. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned seven-year-old looks sure to run another big race, with the Gold Cup the undoubted target.
Ballycasey represents the Willie Mullins camp and although the Rich Ricci owned gelding has been a fantastic servant down through the years but hasn't got his head in front for over a year and a half. If given an easy lead then the son of Presenting may be able to get his head back in front.
One of the most interesting runners in the field is Snow Falcon who is a stablemate to the favourite Road To Respect and finally won a big race (Kerry National) after threating to do so on many occasions. Noel Meade said after this victory:
“I was just thrilled that he went and won a good race like that. We gave him an easy time afterwards as he had a hard race”
Sub Lieutenant got his head in front for the first time in nearly two years at Galway in August which should serve as a very good confidence booster for this smart gelding. The son of Brian Boru has a small bit to find with Snow Falcon on their running in the Galway Plate but that was his first run of the season so perhaps he can reverse the form.
Selection: Road To Riches
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