Bachasson, suited by the race conditions for his seasonal debut, is the final nap of 2018, in today’s The Tote Pays Dividend at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins is responsible for three of the five runners in the highlight of today’s New Year’s Eve card, boosted by a Tote Pick Six carryover of €79,239.
And, at the weights, Bachasson, last seen when falling at the second in Native River’s Gold Cup at Cheltenham last March, looks the pick, with Ruby Walsh in the saddle.
A four-time winner over hurdles, Bachasson, a French-bred seven-year-old, has triumphed three times from six outings over fences, including wide-margin victories in listed company at Thurles and Tramore last season.
And the lightly-raced grey’s form in the previous season included a second to subsequent Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf and a defeat of Irish Grand National winner General Principle.
Back over hurdles today, Bachasson boasts a chase mark of 159, 2lb. below stable-companion and last year’s winner Killultagh Vic, the mount of David Mullins, which must concede 8lb. to the selection here as both horses return to action.
At his best Killultagh Vic is a high-class performer and must be respected, along with the third Mullins runners Scarpeta (Paul Townend), successful on his seasonal bow at Gowran Park, and the Joseph O’Brien-trained French import Darasso.
In a fascinating race, and in receipt of weight from three of his four rivals, Bachasson gets the nod.
The Willie Mullins-trained Ballyward, fourth to Kilbricken Storm in the ‘Albert Bartlett’ at Cheltenham and to stable-companion Next Destination in a Grade 1 at today’s venue in April, has always looked an exciting staying chaser-in-the-making.
And, with Paul Townend in the saddle, he makes plenty of appeal in the opener, a beginners chase over and extended three miles and a furlong, in which Joseph O’Brien’s Shady Operator looks a threat, although unproven over this sort of trip.
Well-regarded by Aidan O’Brien last spring, having finished close behind subsequent Irish Derby winner Latrobe as a juvenile, and off the curse since his sole three-year-old start, at Leopardstown last April, Gardens Of Babylon is a very interesting hurdling recruit in the Small Stakes Big Win Tote 3-Y-0 Maiden Hurdle.
Now with Joseph O’Brien, successful with Sir Erec at Leopardstown in this sphere last week, the Camelot gelding might prove superior to the Mullins-trained Fenta Des Beaux, winner of her only start in a French bumper, and Gordon Elliott’s Surin, a filly which won a Market Rasen bumper when trained in Germany by Mario Hofer.
And, although her rider David Dunsdon is not the strongest in a finish, the Gordon Elliott-trained ‘point’ winner Daylight Katie, third to Caravation (has since run a cracker over hurdles) on her racecourse debut at Naas, sets a decent standard in the finale, a mares bumper.
1.55.Gardens Of Babylon
1.55.Fenta Des Obeaux
Double: Bachasson and Daylight Katie.
O’Hehir’s Longshot: Bective Cave (3.00.)
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