Punchestown preview: Four big stories on day three


Douvan: long odds-on for Ryanair Novice Chase

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

WE ARE at the halfway stage of the Punchestown festival, and it has already provided some memorable moments, here’s what to look out for on day three.

Can anything stop Douvan?

The Willie Mullins-trained good things failed to deliver on day one, but surely nothing can stop Douvan in the Ryanair Novice Chase?

Unbeaten over fences and an imperious winner at Cheltenham and Aintree, the six-year-old looks booked for a fifth straight Grade 1 success.

But as we have already seen this week, there have been shocks, and defeat here would rank as one of the biggest.

Douvan supporters can take heart in the fact Bellshill, Blow By Blow and Augusta Kate scored for Mullins on day two.

Alpha Des Obeaux

Alpha Des Obeaux: has the chance to claim a first Grade 1 win

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos  

Who can take advantage of Thistlecrack’s absence?

Alpha Des Obeaux, like the rest of the Ryanair World Hurdle field, had no answers for Thistlecrack at Cheltenham.

But with Colin Tizzard’s star missing out, the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle has been blown wide open, and it could be another big winner for Mouse Morris.

Shaneshill was also beaten by seven lengths by Thistlecrack at Aintree and is the main danger, while Coral Cup winner Diamond King takes a seat at the top table.

Uncle Junior - Punchestown - 26.04.2012

Uncle Junior: last win came in the La Touche Cup 12 months ago

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)  

Could Uncle Junior do it again?

Uncle Junior has won the La Touche Cup twice in the last four years.

Now a 15-year-old veteran, he is the oldest runner in Thursday’s race, but would be a popular winner for the Mullins team.

However his last four runs have more letters than numbers in the formbook as he slipped at Cheltenham in November, then was pulled up at the track in December.

He unseated Patrick Mullins at Punchestown in January then was tenth of 16 in the cross-country at the Cheltenham Festival.

Graham Wylie

Graham Wylie: Does he have another Yorkhill in action?

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)  

 A star is born?

Last year the Kildare Post (C G) INH Flat Race was won by Yorkhill for Willie Mullins and owner Graham Wylie on his second start under rules, with Patrick Mullins in the saddle.

The same combination return again with Invitation Only, who is also having his second start under rules, and like Yorkhill at the same stage, was a winner last time out.

Wylie was in the winner’s enclosure with a bumper horse on day two as he bred and owns Augusta Kate along with Alan Shearer, Lee Westwood and Ant and Dec.


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