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  • Punchestown Best Bets: Billaway Ready To Roll Away The Years In Champion Hunters’ Chase

Punchestown best bets: Billaway ready to roll away the years in Champion Hunters’ Chase

While the heavyweight odds-on favourites target the major prizes at the Punchestown Festival, the Champion Hunters’ Chase could serve up of the most enjoyably competitive races on Friday’s card.

17:25 Punchestown: Event Power Champion Hunters’ Chase (3 miles 160 yards)

The early market is unsurprisingly headed by It’s On The Line, who has finished in the first two in all of his last nine completed races, winning six, including three out of four over the recent winter season.

Emmet Mullins’ seven-year-old just missed out on Cheltenham Festival glory (second behind Sine Nomine), but quickly made amends at Aintree three weeks ago, when he finished the Foxhunters’ Chase almost five lengths clear of the nearest of his 21 rivals.

He’s expected to give Derek O’Connor another good ride here, but there are plenty among the 14-strong field capable of giving the favourite something to think about.

Lifetime Ambition also lines up fresh from a last-time-out victory at Cork a month ago, while Famous Clermont won three of his four outings last spring and should be sharper for his second-placed pipe-opener at Wincanton in February.

Ferns Lock should enjoy these conditions more than the unsuitably heavy ground he experienced at Fairyhouse a month ago, but arguably the best value among the market leaders is Willie Mullins’ proven campaigner Billaway.

It almost seems more significant when the Master of Closutton saddles just one runner in a big-field race than when he has half a dozen, and veteran Billaway certainly fits the Mullins profile of a capable serial winner.

Suggested best bet: Billaway each-way in the 17:25 at Punchestown

A regular feature at the Cheltenham Festival where he boast figures of 221F5 in his five attempts at the St James’s Place Foxhunters’ Chase, his fifth place there seven weeks ago could be put down to the heavy conditions, with inevitable fatigue causing a couple of late jumping errors.

This race is slightly shorter and the conditions should be more to the 12-year-old’s liking, and if Patrick Mullins can coax a clear round out of the old-timer's ageing legs, then he could well be rubbing shoulders with the youngsters on the run-in.


While Billaway is available at an enticing 12/1 at the time of writing, anyone looking for even juicier odds will find plenty to choose from deeper in the market.

Lonesome Boatman could be something of an unknown quantity on his hunter debut, while Royal Rendezvous is equally intriguing on his new-yard debut since leaving the Mullins stable during last summer.

He signed off last season with a respectable runner-up spot under Danny Mullins over a shorter distance at this venue, and now reappearing with a seven-pound claimer in the saddle, he might just be capable of outracing his hefty starting price.

Outsider punt: Royal Rendezvous each-way in the 17:25 at Punchestown


READ MORE: Punchestown Festival racing tips: Best bets for Day 4 on Friday May 3

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