Punchestown Saturday – Ben Dundee Can Extend Mall Dini Woes4 min read
12:35 Beginners Chase
Mall Dini has been a frustrating horse to follow, losing all 11 races since scoring in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in 2016, and starting favourite on five of those occasions, including in the Kim Muir at the same meeting the following year. It’s notable that he has improved his form on good ground at Cheltenham for the past three years, and he ran up to his very best when runner-up in the 2018 Kim Muir on his penultimate start. He failed to cope with desperate ground in the Irish Grand National last time, but a repeat of his best form would arguably see him shed his maiden status in this sphere.
That’s how the market will read it, and he’s sure to be short odds again, but I’m opposing him at this trip with the promising Ben Dundee. Gordon Elliott’s charge was the lesser fancied of a pair from the yard when a close third to Delta Work on his chase debut at Down Royal, and I thought he went through that race like as good a prospect as the winner, jumping quickly on the whole and battling back when asked around the home turn. He put in the best jump of the three disputing the lead at the last and not at all punished as he tired close home. He will improve fitness-wise, and looks sure to outstrip his useful hurdles form over fences.
Tip: Ben Dundee
13:10 Craddockstown Novices’ Chase
I think people will make too much of Ruby Walsh riding Cadmium here, and Voix du Reve looks the pick of the stable’s runners here after beating the promising Mind’s Eye at Galway last month. His jumping wasn’t without blemish, but he swamped the runner-up for speed after being joined at the last and that asset will carry him a long way. His final hurdles start saw him trying to give lumps of weight to Fortria Chase winner Ballyoisin, and that he finished so close is a testament to his ability.
Tip: Voix du Reve
14:20 Grabel Mares’ Hurdle
Stormy Ireland is opposable on the forecast ground having run her best race in the mud last season, and preference is for Good Thyne Tara, who gives Paul Townend another chance to upstage the man he’s been understudy for since the Hurricane Fly days. Good Thyne Tara was ridden by Walsh when only third in a similar event at Limerick last month, with Townend winning on Robin de Carlow, but she would have finished much closer with a better round of jumping, and is better judged on her defeat of Woodland Opera on quick ground at Cork in July. She also ran well in the Galway Hurdle despite the ground going against her, and she can bounce back now.
Tip: Good Thyne Tara