The Punchestown Festival started on Tuesday with the highlight scheduled for Wednesday. We kept our powder dry on the opening day in the hope of getting a feel for how things are working out, including ground and stable form, but aim to go in for the main attraction. Here are our top Punchestown Gold Cup betting tips.
Wednesday’s eight-race card gets started at 3.40pm with a handicap hurdle and takes us through to the lucky last, a mares’ flat race due off at 7.45pm. We have no less than five graded races on the list, including the Grade 1 Gold Cup, Novice Hurdle and The Conyngham Cup.
Plenty for fans to get excited about and it’s great to see bookmakers have done their bit to allow punters a chance to increase their enjoyment of the day with a bet on a number of exciting markets. There’s value to be found and our team of horse racing tipsters, concentrating on the top of the bill, offer their views on how the betting is looking, which bookmakers are giving best price and the runners that deserve your attention.
Neptune Collognes the One to Beat
The Punchestown Gold Cup is decided over three miles and with a staggering prize pot – over £176,000 of that paid to the winner – it comes as no surprise to see some of the biggest names in the sport come out to play. Follow this race and you’ll catch a glimpse of the most successful trainers, fearless jockeys and the best-bred racehorses on the circuit today. Making a profit from this contest is our number one priority but this will also be a fantastic sporting event and one well worth watching.
The stats show us the most successful horse to run in the Punchestown Gold Cup to date was Neptune Collognes who won the title in 2007 and came back to successfully defend it in 2008. No runner has won the prize more than once and Neptune Collognes deserves his place in the history books, but it’s doubtful that dominance will go unchallenged as the prize money available to champions of this race increases.
Imperial Call won back in 1999 for Ruby Walsh and Raymond Hurley and was joined 12 months ago on the list of champions by 2018 winner Bellshill who delighted backers when scoring for Team Mullins, David riding his mount to success for Willie. That came as no real surprise to followers of the form as Willie Mullins has dominated this race in recent years, boasting no less than five titles.
Walsh and Geraghty Locked in a Battle
The decorated trainer got off the mark back in 1999 with Imperial Call and that opened the floodgates. Commanche Court was next in 2000, followed by that double for Neptune Collognes and, most recently, a win for Boston Bob in 2014. The yard will be desperate to return to the top step in this race following four years on the outside of the winner’s enclosure – too long for a man of Mullins’ talents.
In terms of a jockey to stick with, we have two men on five titles as they battle for dominance. Ruby Walsh won five between 1999 and 2014 and he’s challenged by Barry Geraghty who is also on five Punchestown Gold Cup wins, achieved between 2001 and 2016. Who will we see come out on top on Wednesday afternoon?
In terms of winning age, we have a bit of a mixed bag over the last few years. Bellshill won as an eight-year-old last time and he was the second winner aged eight in the last four years, the other being Don Cossack in 2015. Carlingford Lough and Sizing John filled in the gaps. That’s not entirely convincing, but it is worth noting we find half of the last 10 champions have been eight, and that gives us a bit more to go on. Look out for 8YO with a link to the Mullins yard and we don’t think you’ll go far wrong when betting on the Gold Cup.
Bookies Stick with Kemboy
Bookmakers priced Kemboy at the head of their antepost betting market for this race and he’s a runner that has attracted a fair bit of attention in the early exchanges. That’s perfectly understandable and although we love little more than taking on the bookies and profiting from their mistakes, they don’t look far wrong with their thoughts on this race.
Kemboy brings a CV showing seven wins and two runner-up spots from 14 starts and he flies the flag for Mullins. That won’t go unnoticed by those who follow the form of this race and casual punters who trust Mullins to keep them right without too much time spent studying the stats. The seven-year-old gelding comes in on the back of a win, having scored at Aintree last time out when collecting the Grade 1 Betway Bowl Chase in early April.
The victor left a chasing pack, headed by Clan Des Obeaux, for dust that day with the second crossing the line a full nine lengths off the pace, Balko Des Flos keeping on to score third in what was a decent finish in between the winner. Bagging such an important race with ease shows just how much class this horse possesses, and punters have responded, getting in early to support him at 6/4 – top price with William Hill at the time of writing.
Bellshill is expected to return for more of the same and the antepost list had him as a 6/1 shot with Bet365 for a repeat performance and to join Neptune Collognes as a runner good enough to defend his crown. That will catch the eye of a few shrewd backers, especially with other major firms offering the same runner at as tight as 4/1.
Another from the Mullins string, he is more experienced as a nine-year-old with 22 runs behind him, his stats showing 11 wins and five placed efforts. He was pulled-up at Cheltenham when contesting the Gold Cup, although he was victorious at Leopardstown when scooping the Irish Gold Cup back in February. Worth careful consideration, if he’s included in the final field.