The €275,000 Grade 1 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, 25th April, the highlight of the Punchestown Festival, promises to be a race to savour this year.
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.
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 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup challengers based across the Irish Sea include the Brian Ellison-trained Definitly Red, winner of the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January.
Other entries from Britain include the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Minella Rocco, American 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 stable mate, 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 Fly, Our 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 the second day of the Festival.
The race, run over three miles, includes the Colin Tizzard-trained Kilbricken 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 (Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle) and Delta Work (Pertemps Final). Willie Mullins has an equally strong entry including Next Destination, a Grade 1 winner at Naas in January.