Who To Follow On Day One Of The Punchestown Festival 2023

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Punchestown - April 24 2023
Punchestown 17:35
Rachael Blackmore

Journey With Me

J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 151
Days: 44

The final selection of the afternoon on Tuesday comes in the Grade One Champion Novice Chase over 3m 1/2f and we are siding with Journey With Me who will improve for the step up in trip.

A horse that showed plenty of ability in his early days winning his PTP by 12 lengths and then on rules debut bolted up again at Gowran Park in tough conditions.Sent hurdling in December 2021 over 2m4f at Leopardstown, he saw off two talented rivals in Minella Crooner and Kilcruit to land his first race over hurdles.

Backing that up at Naas in a Listed Novice Hurdle under a penalty, he was then sent into the Grade One Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and although he would have been beaten, he took the first fall of his career.

Stepped up to three miles at the Punchestown festival he never really got involved and it was a tame end to a promising season.

Sent chasing this term he looked to need his debut massively looking like he had never seen a fence in his life and ultimately two from home.

However, since then he has shown much better form, getting off the mark next time out when bolting up at Naas ahead of a next time out winner.

Improving again he was a 1/2 length second to the highly talented Impervious in the Grade Three Novice Chase at Punchestown over 2m 3 1/2f.

Back to winning ways at Naas in a Grade Three Novice Chase last time out, skipping the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, should leave him bang on for this event.


Trainer To Follow - Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins will be looking to start off the Punchestown festival with a bang and the amount of strong chances he has throughout the card makes him the man to follow.

In the opener he fields a few mares who should be in the finish in the Listed event with some of his strongest challengers being Nikin, Night And Day and Saylavee.

The first Grade One of the afternoon sees the Closutton maestro take over at the top of the market with the Supreme Novices' Hurdle second, third and fifth Facile Vega, Diverge and Il Etait Temps all in with big chances.

In the Grade B Handicap Hurdle Tekao looks well weighted off a mark of 130, but Mullins also fields the 11 year old Cash Back and six year old Tax For Max.

Mullins is as strong as ever in the next Grade One of the afternoon with dual Champion Chase winner Energumene looking for back to back Punchestown Champion Chases, but taking him on are stablemates Gentleman De Mee, Blue Lord and Chacun Pour Soi.

The Goffs Defender Bumper sees Mullins field two runner with Milo Lises and Predators Gold both making their debuts.

The experienced handler is then looking to dominate the final Grade One on the card with the likes of Sir Gerhard, Appreciate It, Classic Getaway and James Du Berlais all taking their chances.

Mullins finishes the afternoon with just one runner in the bumper, Ninth Loch makes his debut for the yard.

Jockey To Follow - Jordan Gainford

Currently filling in as number one rider for Gordon Elliott, Jordan Gainford has picked up two smart rides on Tuesday and he is worth following.

His best chance of the afternoon comes in the opener aboard Shecouldbeanything in the Listed Mares Novice Hurdle with the mare looking to go better than her sixth in the Grade Two Mares Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

Gainford's other ride comes in the first Grade One of the day where Found A Fifty who was well backed at Aintree is looking to put it all together.