Punchestown Friday Preview - 03/02/2019

16:20 - Poker Party

No bet from us in the first, so our tips open with the Grade A EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase, where Poker Party can construct leg three of an excellent hat-trick.

His success at Naas was rather convincing over his rivals under Rachael Blackmore, which earned him a 10lb rise in the weights.

He struck at the same venue again beating Stowaway Forever again comfortably in December, and must be considered a big player in this.

Versatile with ground.

16:55 - Barra

The mare Barra looks a leading light in the Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase over 2m5f.

Two starts since finishing fifth in higher company here behind Benie Des Dieux in the Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle twelve months ago.

She won on reappearance at Kilbeggan in her beginners chase before finishing a good third to the classy Camelia De Cotte in a first-time Grade Three at Fairyhouse.

Back into handicaps, and must be considered as a candidate for this contest.

17:30 - Buveur D'Air

Buveur D'Air will be on somewhat of a recovery plan in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, after falling early on in the Cheltenham equivalent when hunting for hat-trick, and failing to get past Supasundae at Aintree.

Surprisingly, he has only won twice this season from five attempts, after also being dispatched at Kempton Park over Christmas by another mare Verdana Blue, who shares the same yard.

His two victories came in the Grade One Fighting Fifth at Newcastle which now looks pretty weak form-wise, along with the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown in February, but he still is a classy dual-Champion Hurdler with plenty of talent and qualities to treasure about him.

Two miles and speed is his game, on ground that will suit much more than the slog last time.

18:05 - City Island and Dommage Pour Toi

Two tips in the day's other Grade One - the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle, of which we have selected City Island as a win bet, and Dommage Pour Toi in the each-way market.

City Island was the master winner of the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, making it five wins from five since finishing second in a bumper at this meeting twelve months ago.

The form of the race has been boosted with Champ's win at Aintree, and he really pulled away in style at Prestbury Park under this jockey who knows him so well.

Will look to track the leaders once again, and play his hand late. Classy individual who will take all the beating, whereas Dommage Pour Toi is not one to rule out at a bigger price.

Form figures prove his progression, finishing third on debut in a maiden, second at Leopardstown in March by a nose before finally prevailing in a Grade Two last time out at Fairyhouse.

He beat a horse of Emmet Mullins' called Zero Ten who was successful earlier in the week at this meeting, and Castlebawn West who ran with great credit in Grade One company before fading late in the three-mile novice hurdle final.

Really useful form going into this, and Rachael Blackmore must be sniffing at the bit to notch up another big race winner.

16:35 - Stand Up And Fight

Stand Up And Fight will seek a return to the winners enclosure in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Champion Hunters Chase.

The seven-year-old was not disgraced by any means at Cheltenham when his clear lack of experience clearly told the story.

Promising young horse who has plenty more to offer, and has a fine Amateur on board in the shape of Derek O'Connor.

Enda Bolger a master of these races, and does have a good one here.

19:10 - Breaken

Our final tip of the day comes in the penultimate contest - the SalesSense International Novice Hurdle, where Paul Townend will put the Al Boum Photo colours back on in preparation on riding Breaken.

The five-year-old was a winner on hurdles debut for Willie Mullins at Limerick in March, and smashed the field by a good seventeen lengths.

Mrs Donnelly has a growing army in the National Hunt scene, and she could have another improving individual in this guy.

A french import, should hopefully get the better of his new stablemate in Annamix, who we have been put off by from his sketchy jumping last time out at Clonmel.

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