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Sunday’s racing in Ireland comes from Punchestown with two graded races on the card. Alan Dudman has four bets lined up for the afternoon…

Carlitos can show them the way from the front

12:40 Punchestown – Back Carlitos Bay @ [12.0]

Good ground is still causing plenty of headaches – unless of course you have a good ground horse! As lines go, I still have work to do for my catchphrase, but it really is bizarre to think we are approaching February without some mud flying around. It’s a difficult time race-to-race, let alone delving into the ante-post Cheltenham markets, and that is why there is a fair bit of business still to be done from now until March.

Punchestown’s Sunday card has a bit for everyone, although the 22-runner maiden hurdle at 14:50 is not one I will be having a bet in.

The first race is a weak beginners’ affair over the fences, and the standard is poor, but a bet can be found. I wouldn’t be in a mad rush to back Young Paddymc at 7/4 on the Sportsbook, but due to the threadbare nature of form and viable opponents, he’s a fairly obvious candidate judged on his second at Limerick. He was well beaten there and he has to prove himself on this ground. He could well do that, but I’ll leave him alone.

I am taking a Win and Place punt on Carlitos Bay. Now, he is limited with a win record of 0-8 fences and 1-12 hurdles, but he does act on good ground and he stays a bit further than today’s trip. In fact over 3m, he usually finishes well.

His jumping is usually sound, although he fell late on at Punchestown in October. You can play him as a trade as he likes to make the running, so hopefully it’s a good test and he can utilise his stamina on a surface he doesn’t mind.

Will the real Blow By Blow stand up please?

13:15 Punchestown – Back Blow By Blow @ [12.0]

It hasn’t quite happened for Blow By Blow over fences following his first two runs of the campaign; which is a shame as he looked potentially exciting for the game over the larger obstacles. He is trained by Gordon Elliott who seems to be having a right good go at this race with five of the nine in the field. You can click here to read his thoughts on the famous quintet.

Elliott has highlighted in his blog that 3m could be his (Blow By Blow) best trip, so it will be interesting what sort of test this race will provide over the 2m4f. It’s a Grade 3 Novice, and I think it looks quite winnable. A Plus Tard looks a good jumper, but he is short enough at [2.50], whilst Winter Escape is a strong traveller and has quite a bit of speed and form over shorter.

Blow By Blow is a Festival winner in the Martin Pipe, and horses that win that race usually stay pretty well. It must be remembered he was rated in the 150s over hurdles, and the long game was always going to be chasing given his looks, but it hasn’t worked out for whatever reason. If stamina comes into play, Blow By Blow has to come into the picture as a bet.

He ran poorly in the Drinmore but did’t run too badly last time, again at Grade 1 level, and that was behind Delta Work. As a Grade 1 bumper winner, he has a fair bit of class. His jumping hasn’t totally impressed, and that could be a worry as this could be more of a test of speed, but the [11.50] on offer is a big price.

It hasn’t clicked for him yet, so hopefully we will see a bit more from him.

Destination the major bet in staying event

14:20 Punchestown – Back Major Destination @ [8.60]

In-running backers and layers will be keen on Noel Meade’s Major Destination for one of the feature races – the Amateur National. To say this horse has a bit of previous is an understatement – but he has blinkers on for the first time today (to go alongside the tongue strap) and that’s persuaded me to get involved. Back him at around [8.60].

Let’s get the negatives out of the way firstly. He threw away a race at Sligo back in September. He led at the final fence and came nearside and had the first prize at his mercy, only to switch off and gift the race to his opponent. He was done at [1.01] in that and joined an exclusive club.

His last two efforts at Fairyhouse includes in-play defeats at [1.60] and [1.42]. So those blinkers are very much needed today to go with the other equipment. They might sharpen up his jumping too, as his technique was poor in the Cork National.

However, his best run in a Grade B handicap behind Dinnie’s Vinnie came over 3m5f on good ground at Fairyhouse and he never gave up in that despite one or two errors in the race.

He can go close from 126 judged on that Fairyhouse run, and he has raced a fair bit on a sound surface – so he is another who should be fine with the conditions.

Elliott youngster can put them to the sword

14:50 Punchestown – Back Swordsman @ [5.10]

Willie Mullins has unleashed some of his best horses in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Hurdle, but looking at the betting, we do not have a Getabird, Vautour, Douvan nor Min. The two this year for Mullins are Harrie [4.70] and Buildmeupbuttercup [3.75], and this looks really open.

Harrie won over 2m5f at Tramore and drops back down to 2m, while Buildmeupbuttercup has plenty of pace and scored at Navan. She receives weight here and is another good advert for a sire I have a lot of time for in Sixties Icon. His stock take their racing well, usually have stamina and remain sound. Buildmeupbuttercup has a shed load of speed and is quick, so is slightly different from the sire’s usual MO. She could really zip around here which presents less of a stamina test than her Navan effort.

However, on the sire theme, we’ve got another Doyen here. Doyen’s stock tend to be built like powerhouses, and Battleoverdoyen’s little brother runs in the shape of Swordsman. He can be backed at around [5.10].

He really looked the part when winning at Fairyhouse by 12 lengths – and that came on good ground over 2m4f. He seemed to travel well enough in that so I am not too worried about the drop back down in trip. I never get too bogged down with that anyway, as we often see Mullins alternate between the minimum to further.

Swordsman steps out of maiden hurdle company and goes straight into a graded race, but it worked with his elder brother – who landed the Grade 1 at Naas last weekend.

You can click here to read what Gordon Elliott has to say about Swordsman.

Trip more suitable for Gin

It’s probably stretching it to say I’ve unearthed a bet in the 15:50 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, although Stucker Hill is a more than fair price at odds of around [4.20] considering her profile. She is progressive with two victories, and not that many in the field can match those exploits.

Mysloegin was trading at around [10.0] last night, and whilst she is exposed, her run last time over fences was over 2m – a trip that was too short for her.

The mare reverts to 2m4f, and whilst that still might not be her optimum considering she has form at nearly 3m, she is best when making the running and a switch to those tactics might engineer a trade as a back-to-lay. I doubt she has much in hand from her current mark, which is why she didn’t make the list as bet material for the win.

*Click here to read all the of the latest betting news and exclusive previews ahead of Sunday’s racing



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