Tony Keenan’s tips: Punchestown Friday
Petit Mouchoir can show his true Champion Hurdle credentials again
David Mullins on Petit Mouchoir wins the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Punchestown 4:20 – Balko Des Flos/Last Goodbye
Disko and Our Duke are two of Ireland’s best novice chasers and having finished third to them on his penultimate start, Balko Des Flos could be very well-in off 143 returned to handicaps. His last run told us little as he fell before the race began in earnest, but it is a positive that connections opted to go for the Grade One then. Last Goodbye, who caught the eye at Cheltenham despite it being his first start in nearly three months, is saver material.
Punchestown 5:30 – Petit Mouchoir
No Annie Power, but Willie Mullins still has five runners in a race with prizemoney down to sixth. None of his quintet had true Champion Hurdle credentials unlike Petit Mouchoir who won the first Irish version at Leopardstown and can do likewise here. His third in the real event at Cheltenham is worth upgrading as he forced an overly strong gallop and his jumping was uncharacteristically patchy. That form worked out at Aintree and this track will suit him well.
Punchestown 6:05 –- Bleu Berry
Finian’s Oscar, Death Duty and Let’s Dance have the best form but their benchmark is hardly insurmountable and all three have had long campaigns. An improver could catch them out and Bleu Berry appeals primed for that role; despite only making his seasonal debut in February, he has climbed the ranks quickly, winning a Grade Two at Fairyhouse last time. Good ground is an unknown but his strong-travelling running style suggests he’ll handle it and he hits an angle that can offer value at this fixture as a Mullins horse ridden by a jockey other than Ruby Walsh.