THE Punchestown Festival features some of the most competitive jump racing action of the entire season.
There’s big-field handicaps and competitive Grade 1s across the board but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few bankers across the week.
With several Cheltenham Festival winners set to strut their stuff for one final time this season – we list the four horses for whom defeat this week would be a huge shock.
William Hill Champion Chase, 5.25, Tuesday
A Shishkin no-show and a fall from Chacun Pour Soi made Energumene’s task a whole lost easier in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
That said, the eight-year-old still won with the authority of top-class horse and it would be a serious surprise should he come unstuck at Punchestown.
Chacun Pour Soi is in the field once again and represents the biggest danger to the favourite but in reality Energumene should, and most likely will, get the job done.
Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race, 6.30, Wednesday
In terrible conditions on the second day of the Festival, Facile Vega lit up Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper.
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He was utterly dominant and would likely have been even more so had the conditions not turned quite so dire.
Several of his biggest rivals in this were thoroughly put in their place last time and it’s tough to seen them overturning that form.
Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, 5.25, Friday
With connections of Constitution Hill opting against an ambitious Punchestown mission there is little standing in Honeysuckle’s way as she goes for a 16th straight win.
Outstanding in the Champion Hurdle last time, she is peerless in this division at present and will remain so until next season begins.
It will no doubt be one of the biggest shocks of the entire season if she gets turned over here.
Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, 4.25, Saturday
Vauban’s win in the Triumph Hurdle was one of the most impressive of the week at Cheltenham.
And with Pied Piper having boosted the form at Aintree subsequently, the win looks even better now.
Fil Dor looks his biggest challenger here but he couldn’t land a glove on Vauban last time and will surely struggle to do so again.
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