Grade One INH Champion Flat Race Guide 2021

Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
3
Mr Derek O'Connor

Kilcruit

J:
 
Mr Derek O'Connor
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 42

It’s a conundrum at the top of the market as Cheltenham foes and potential future stars, Kilcruit and Sir Gerhard face off once more, this time for the Grade One Champion INH Flat race.

Willie Mullins has won seven of the last nine renewals of this race and is represented by both runners at the head of affairs.

Kilcruit was the runner up in the Champion Bumper, although he does appear to be the better stayer of the two, having kept on as a fast finisher to reduce the winners lead to just an eventual half a length.

You could quite easily warrant a calculated ante-post bet for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle based on those exploits however the issue remains...

It all goes back to the classic dilemma of stamina versus speed and last times tactical affair is likely to play out once more.

Kilcruit did go off favourite when the pair went head to head last time out and was mightily impressive in his two prior runs, winning by nine and 12 lengths respectively.

Kilcruit’s rider Derek O’Connor will be much more aware of the risks Sir Gerhard poses if having an easy lead so will be keen to suppress such a threat this time around.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/12/21LEO20Y/Sft12-03
05/12/21COR16Sft12-02
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-21
17/03/21CHL16.5GS11-52
06/02/21LEO16Sft/Hy11-131
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
6
Mr P W Mullins

Sir Gerhard

J:
 
Mr P W Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 42

Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard made all  from the front under Rachel Blackmore last time out and in usual Blackmore fashion, went up through the gears in an attempt to submit each rival.

Despite her best efforts however, what was a five length lead entering the home turn was demoted to just a half length win thanks to the ever-closing Kilcruit who kept on menacingly in behind.

Sir Gerhard’s turn of foot won the race that day and much like Kilcruit and the Ballymore, it’s no surprise to see a flurry of bets go down quickly after his win to back his chances in next years Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The gelding was previously with Gordon Elliott before Cheltenham and remains unbeaten in four starts with 14 length and 4 1/2 length victories in his two runs for his former trainer.

Despite this, at the time of writing, he looks to once again, be going off as the second favourite in the contest.

In what’s most likely to be another tactical offing, it’ll be a more than interesting match up in which a foot race would suit Sir Gerhard to the ground.

However, if they were to get racing at an earlier stage this time around, the staying power of Kilcruit will be difficult to match.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/12/21LEO16Sft12-01
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-23
17/03/21CHL16.5GS11-51
18/12/20NAV16Sft/Hy11-131
31/10/20DRO16.5Sft12-21
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
8
Mr A P Fahey

Lake Winnipesaukee

J:
 
Mr A P Fahey
T:
 
P G Fahey
Age: 4
Weight: 11-6
OR: N/A
Days: 52

Lake Winnipesaukee is an interesting proposition in the contest and does pose somewhat of a threat to the top two.

Trainer Pat Fahy’s runner was absolutely coasting when 13 lengths ahead last time out on his debut at Leopardstown and it would of been interesting to see whether he would of extended that lead had he not taken the wrong route 3f out.

The out of bounds run cost him the race however the manner by which he was running shows real potential and with that being his only run to date, we still know very little about his current abilities.

It would still be a very speculative bet, given the past form and achievements the top two in the market have already accomplished.

However, he offers plenty of value away from the short priced favourites.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
07/03/21LEO16Y11-0RO
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
2
Mr T Hamilton

Eric Bloodaxe

J:
 
Mr T Hamilton
T:
 
Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 452

Eric Bloodaxe had a bright start to his career with two quickfire wins at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse for trainer J P O’Brien and looked a smart type.

On his third outing, in the Grade Two Goffs Future Stars, his rider reported that his mount felt lame when pulling up and due to the issues raised, only managed a seventh placed finish behind eventual winner, Appreciate It, despite going off as second favourite that day.

He has since spent the past 14 months in training and may find his task today a little heavy on his first run back, given his lack of racing over the past year.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/12/21LIM23Hy11-51
04/12/21NAV20Y11-52
06/11/21NAA19Y/Sft12-01
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-24
01/02/20LEO16Y11-137
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
5
Mr B O'Neill

Ramillies

J:
 
Mr B O'Neill
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 42

Willie Mullins does have a third runner in the race in the form of Ramillies and looks to be fairly smart given his 10 length Leopardstown win in December.

That run is sandwiched by a fourth placed and fifth placed finish at Leopardstown however and he also ran home an eighth placed finisher in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper.

Based on the latter, he has plenty to find on the market leaders.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-26
17/03/21CHL16.5GS11-58
06/02/21LEO16Sft/Hy11-135
28/12/20LEO16Sft12-21
26/12/19LEO16Sft11-44
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
4
Mr B G Crawford

O'Toole

J:
 
Mr B G Crawford
T:
 
S R B Crawford
Age: 5
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 60

O’Toole represents trainer Stuart Crawford and enters the equation boasting a 15 length win on his first and only run to date.

He kept on strongly in the final furlong to extend his lead, winning at 25/1 and beating a 250/1 runner up.

The form of that race may not equate to much, however his trainer clearly feels today’s race is well worth a crack given the manner of that win.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/12/21DRO17Sft11-121
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-22
27/02/21FAI16Sft11-81
Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
7
Mr D G Lavery

Sundrenched

J:
 
Mr D G Lavery
T:
 
J J Lambe
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 25

Sundrenched beat a fairly useful sort when winning by a head at Navan in September.

He subsequently took a seven month break to return 25 days ago at Fairyhouse, finishing a midfield fourth.

He should strip fitter from that comeback run, but does look to be out of his depth here.

Punchestown - April 27 2021
Punchestown 17:30
1
Mr J J Codd

Ardla

J:
 
Mr J J Codd
T:
 
M Halford
Age: 6
Weight: 12-2
OR: N/A
Days: 214

The only course and distance winner in the field, Ardla, won at 8/1 by 2 1/4 lengths here in September.

He was less impressive next time out at Listowel however, finishing a 14 1/2 length fourth on softer ground and has since been off the track for 200+ days.

It will be interesting to see his well-being and abilities back at Punchestown on better ground after a layoff, however isn’t expected pose much threat to the market leaders.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
23/11/21PUN16Gd/Y12-02
20/10/21NAV14Y10-02
07/10/21THU16Y10-28
16/07/21KLB16Gd12-04
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-27

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